HC Deb 19 October 1989 vol 158 cc293-368

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on amendment to Question [18 October]: That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989 contained in Cm. 675.

Which amendment was, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: `believing that the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989 has been overtaken by the superpower disarmament initiatives, and supporting those agreed at the 1989 NATO Summit, considers that Her Majesty's Government should undertake a Review to ensure that Britain is defended by properly supported Armed Forces and by the negotiation of verifiable disarmament agreements, to assess future commit-ments and priorities, to provide Forces and defence industries with a framework to plan future needs, and to examine the allocation of resources which could be released for social and economic purposes; recognising that negotiated disarmament is now more probable, and welcoming progress towards a world-wide treaty banning the possession or production of chemical and biological weapons, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to support NATO in seeking to reduce short-range nuclear forces before complete implementation of any conventional force agreement and to delay a decision on the Lance replacement; urges Her Majesty's Government to seek NATO's abandonment of the destabilising flexible response strategy; demands that Her Majesty's Government indicates its willingness to participate in the next stage of the START process; recognising the impact of government economies and the lack of an industrial procurement strategy on the Services and on major contractors now vulnerable to foreign takeovers, calls upon the Government to establish a Conversion Agency to employ the skills and resources of the defence procurement industry in the civil sector; condemns the cowardly attacks of murderous paramilitary groups; and demands that the Government ends the sacrifice of safety at military bases and establishments by the excessive dependence on private contractors.'—[Mr. O'Neill.]

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

5.3 pm

Mr. Speaker

I remind the House—I have already said it twice—that as a great many hon. Members wish to participate in the final day of the Defence debate, I shall ask for a limit of 10 minutes between 7 o'clock and 10 o'clock—I am sorry—7 o'clock and 9 o'clock.

Mr. Michael Mates (Hampshire, East)

Why not 10 o'clock.

Mr. Speaker

I hope that those right hon. and hon. Members who are called before that time will bear that limit in mind, to accommodate their colleagues.

Mr. John Marshall (Hendon, South)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, in c. 144 of Hansard, you said that it is not possible for the Chair to select more than one amendment. I would never dream of questioning one of your rulings, but I fear that you have been wrongly advised, as my advice is that there is no such rule. If an amendment had been tabled by the leader of the Liberal party, it might well have been considered for a Division, yet an amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), which was a fortnight ago supported by 4.2 million people in this country, is not to be considered. In view of this, would you reconsider your ruling?

Mr. Speaker

I think that the hon. Member is confused. It is possible to call two amendments in the debate on the Loyal Address, but not in a debate of this kind.

5.5 pm

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Alan Clark)

The traditional two-day defence debate has the advantage that more hon. Members can have the opportunity to put their views and the interests of their constituents to the House and that the four Defence Ministers can submit themselves to the scrutiny of the House for their several responsibilities.

I shall speak about weapons procurement. The House knows that it is a subject of great complexity and expertise. I shall endeavour to give way to hon. Members as often as I can, but I invite them—although I do not insist—to recall the curiously tetchy remarks of the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) yesterday, when he said: It is always annoying when a question is asked that has no relevance to what we are talking about."—Official Report, 18 October 1989; Vol. 158, c. 160.] That was a curious remark for someone who has been in the House for 10 years, but his command of the audience is such that he does not express it very often.

I shall do my best to give way but, due to the complexity of the subject, it is possible that hon. Members may have to content themselves with a two-tier answer—I shall answer in general terms and we may have to provide hon. Members with fuller written texts later.

Seven out of the nine Select Committee reports linked to this year's debate relate directly to defence equipment procurement issues. This shows the interest that the House takes in, and the importance it attaches to, ensuring that our Armed Services are equipped with the best available equipment. I pay tribute to the skill and diligence with which the Committee has applied itself to a series of difficult topics.

In procuring equipment, we spend more than £8 billion a year of taxpayers' money. To obtain the best value for this outlay, the Ministry has adopted a commercial aproach which makes the maximum use of competition and taut contracting. I found it very odd yesterday that the hon. Member for Clackmannan said that this approach is filling him with disquiet. He related it to what he alleged was a fall-off in quality. I must tell the House that I have absolutely no evidence to suggest that this happens. The importance that we attach to this issue is shown by the recent appointment of a director of reliability to act as a focal point for reliability matters within the Procurement Executive. I am certain that competition promotes the efficient use of industrial resources, leading to greater export success, as we have witnessed during the last few years. In 1988, our exports sales amounted to more than £3.5 billion. This is one industrial sector where we are in surplus on the current account.

It seems extraordinary that Opposition Members who, on other occasions, deplore and protest most loudly at the decline in our manufacturing capability and the effect that it has on the balance of payments, should have singled out this one exceptionally successful sector for the application of a curious mixture of doctrinaire and muddled suggestions and the almost batty concept of the arms conversion agency.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr.Hayward), in a most able speech yesterday, fell into an argument about what the hon. Member for Clackmannan said at a trade union meeting. I am not interested in what he said at the meeting because I am content to settle for what he said here yesterday evening. He said that Labour would help those firms in the defence industry … to move into new markets, by way of grants, training, and advice on restructuring and markets."—[Official Report, 18 October 1989; Vol. 158. c. 168.] In other words, he intends to take one of the most successful industries—one that knows exactly what it is doing—and move it —

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)


Mr. Clark

I will gladly give way to the right hon. Gentleman when I have finished my critique of what the hon. Member for Clackmannan said.

He would take those industries away from what they are doing successfully and ask them to do something about which they have no knowledge or experience. How will he assist them? Who will give advice, one wonders? Will it be officials? Will it be Ministers? Will it be funded from the public purse? Will it be discriminatory? It will not be available to other industries, or so I understand.

The hon. Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes), who wound up the debate for the Opposition yesterday, had some words of comfort for the luckless work force in these industries. He said that the scheme would involve putting people into socially acceptable jobs. Unfortunate souls that they are, they are now working in a productive and useful industry but they are to be shifted by some agency into socially acceptable jobs.

Mr. Martin O'Neill (Clackmannan)

What are the Minister of State and his Department doing to try to assist his contituents in Plymouth who have been made unemployed as a result of the contraction of the Royal Navy's core programme in shipbuilding and refitting? What is he proposing to do in that part of the world about such problems because they are exactly the ones that an arms conversion agency would seek to address? At the moment the Government are doing nothing for the people of Plymouth, Devonport.

Mr. Clark

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has been slightly wounded by my comments. He has staged a diversion which has little to do with what was being said. Although as I understand it, his measures were deliberately conceived to shift people out of the defence industries into socially acceptable jobs, if he wants to deal with the people who would be made unemployed in that industry, whole corporations would have to move to making things of which they have no experience. However, since the hon. Gentleman asks, precisely 27 people in my constituency have been made compulsorily redundant in the dockyard. I repeat that the figure is only 27, which is a very much smaller number than that for compulsory redundancies in six or seven other industries.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

But 5,500 people have lost their jobs—

Mr. Clark

They have changed their jobs.

Mr. Alfred Morris


Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)


Mr. Clark

Although it seems rather early in our proceedings to get so involved, I shall give way to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris).

Mr. Morris

The Minister talked about job losses in his constituency. There were 700 job losses announced in my constituency by Ferranti earlier this year. There is fear now of further job losses. Is there anything more that he can say today over and above what his right hon. Friend said yesterday, about the firm? Will he accept that there is very considerable concern among the work force at Ferranti?

Mr. Clark

I am delighted to hear the Labour party adopting the position that job losses are regrettable and that in the defence industries they must be cured by a more diligent and higher level of Government expenditure in that area. I find that extremely helpful and I look forward to the assistance of Labour Members later when the question of defence spending in the aggregate comes up. However, we were not talking about job losses. There was no suggestion in the speech of the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) that he was talking about job losses; he was talking about the compulsory redirection of industrial activity. That is what he said.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Does the Minister accept that the whole point of this debate is that the Government should set out their policies, not spend their time on a. knockabout in the House of Commons? Will the Minister tell us the Government's strategy for our defence industries over the next 10 years on the basis that if we get a reduction in tension between East and West and a reduction in regional conflicts, the demands for arms worldwide will decrease, and if that happens it will be difficult for British defence contractors to get as much work as they are now getting? What is the Government's strategy on finding them alternative products to sell?

Mr. Clark

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's counsel. It is true that we have been diverted, but plainly I had to draw the attention of the House to the curious statement by the hon. Member for Clackmannan, which was reinforced by his colleagues with all their claptrap about social acceptability. That seems an odd posture to take. When the implications of what was said are fed back to the people on the shop floor of the defence industries, I feel that we shall soon hear little more of it. The capacity of the Labour party's designer-mode Front Bench to adjust their policy in a fine-tuned response to public demand is infinite. I expect that this policy will soon sink without trace.

However, I accept the implied rebuke from the hon. Gentleman. The Government attach particular impor-tance to the opening up of the European armaments market. Our buying "off the shelf" from each other can avoid needless development costs. All the Independent European Programme Group nations have now nominat-ed focal points for companies from other member countries to register their interest in bidding for contract opportunities. Starting next year, all the IEPG nations will publish their own defence contracts bulletins similar to those now issued by the United Kingdom and France.

We are also fully committed to the principle of collaboration with our allies to reduce duplication of effort and to promote standardisation and further the cause of equipment interoperability. Collaborative projects now account for some 15 per cent. of the United Kingdom's procurement budget, while overseas purchasing alone accounts for a further 10 per cent.

However, I must emphasise that our efforts to strengthen collaboration with our allies have to be carefully considered to ensure that they provide tangible results in terms of value for money. Collaboration is not an end in itself, to be pursued purely for symbolic reasons. Rather, it is the means to an end, which is value for money.

In that connection, I turn immediately to the subject that was exercised in the House yesterday, especially by Opposition Members. I refer to the background to our withdrawal from the NFR90 programme, which was announced on 29 September.

When in January 1988 the then Secretary of State for Defence announced that the United Kingdom would be participating in the project definition stage of NFR90, he said that the United Kingdom had made it clear to its collaborative partners that our continued participation was conditional on agreement of a timetable which was both realistic in technical terms and properly matched to the timetables for the ships major weapons systems. We emphasised that the United Kingdom would decide at the first project review whether or not to continue participation in this project.

This first project review has now taken place. As a result, and also taking account of the reduced prospects for achieving a common design, the Government concluded that the timetable proposed for the remainder of the project did not meet the conditions which they sought and consequently took the decision to withdraw from the project. In informing our NATO partners, the Government have emphasised their full commitment to the principle of collaboration where this is sensible and efficient.

Where collaborative projects are successful—the Tornado aircraft is an excellent example of a highly successful collaborative project—they will receive the full backing of the Government. Our support for the European fighter aircraft project, to which my right hon. Friend referred yesterday, has also been made plain. But where collaborative projects fail to produce the results they were designed to achieve; then we should not flinch from withdrawing.

Dr. John Gilbert (Dudley, East)

It is all very well for the Minister to slide off the issue of the NATO frigate merely by saying that agreed specifications could not be arrived at, but surely he must face his own responsibilities in these matters. Because the United Kingdom withdrew, agreed specifications were not agreed because the United Kingdom would not agree to the specifications. In precisely what details did the agreed specifications of other nations not meet our requirements?

Mr. Clark

It is better to withdraw from projects at an early stage—[HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."]—before con-siderable investment in time and money has taken place. The decision to withdraw does not affect the key element of the project, which is the development of the systems.

The weapons systems will have to be mounted on hulls and there is no question but that the amount of hulls and the number of vessels will change. It is better that the hulls on which the systems are to be mounted should be built in Britain according to the staff requirements of the Royal Navy and to meet precisely—[Interruption.] I could not hear what the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) was saying. Perhaps he would like to intervene.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

The Minister is using this as obfuscation. The Government made a decision to withdraw from the project, but not for the reasons that have been given. Will the Minister tell us where we go now? Do we need a frigate which in rough terms is related to the NATO frigate for the 1990s?

Mr. Clark

The hon. Gentleman did not hear me say precisely that in my last sentence before I gave way to him. Yes, we need a successor frigate and, yes, we shall be examining the possibility of designing a British hull and building it in British yards, but it is assumed at present that there will be a certain commonality of the systems that will fit in with the NFR90 hulls. It seems extremely sensible to adopt that course at an early stage rather than to waste our time and resources developing a hull which at an early stage in the project definition—we gave notice that that was our intention—would not be appropriate.

Sir Antony Buck (Colchester, North)

First, it is an enormous pleasure to see my hon. Friend at the Dispatch Box with his new responsibilities. Does he agree that the matters raised by Opposition Members are largely dealt with in paragraph 411 of the White Paper which deals with the new machinery to develop closer links so that we can take full advantage of the opportunities after September 1997?

Mr. Clark

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend, who, formerly, had ministerial responsibility for the Navy. Therefore he is familiar with precisely those problems. On reflection, I believe that the House will agree that the course of action we have adopted is preferable to continuing with the project, which was, beginning to look unsatisfactory for our needs to some degree.

Mr. George Galloway (Glasgow, Hillhead)

I also welcome the Minister to his new position. He is an old friend of mine and I hope that we will not fall out this evening. I hope that I have not caused him any problems with that confession.

The answer that the Minister has given on the NFR90 does not seem adequate. I take the health warning that he issued earlier: he is newly in the job and he will receive letters and suchlike thereafter. Jane's Defence Weekly of last week, when speaking of the NFR90 withdrawal, said: Just how sudden the decision to exit the programme was can be gained from the fact that as late as the end of last month the MOD intended to issue a number of invitations for contracts on the NFR90. These included surface weapon and ship platform studies along with three combat system studies. The MOD seems to have had a dramatic about face on this project.

Mr. Clark

The studies can, of course, proceed because, as I have already explained, the systems can be accommodated in whatever hull thought appropriate by the Royal Navy as best suited to meet its needs.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

In future will my hon. Friend bear in mind the importance of maintaining the credibility of the United Kingdom as a consistent and reliable industrial partner for collaborative programmes, particularly in view of the decision to be taken on the future of the EH101 naval helicopter? Will he also bear in mind that it is usually preferable for British industry to he able to bid in to get its systems on to a large number of vessels, which would be the case with a collaborative programme, rather than on the somewhat limited number of vessels available on a purely national basis?

Mr. Clark

The systems remain collaborative and they can be fitted in different hull designs. It is possible that the Dutch will produce a frigate design that has slight variations on the Royal Navy frigates. I accept my hon. Friend's point that systems—they are the most expensive and difficult items in our inventory —are best approached on a collaborative basis in many cases. I cannot accept the implication that one should never be able to feel free to withdraw from a project because of the damage that it might do to confidence. If one were locked into projects at as early a stage as this one would never find oneself being party to such collaborative projects.

Mr. Ian Bruce (Dorset, South)

What my hon. Friend has said about system collaboration and the use of such systems will he music to the ears of many of the professionals in the Admiralty research establishment and in the Navy, to whom I have spoken recently about whole ship procurement. Has the MOD decided that the decision to go the whole ship procurement route, which we were doing with NFR90, was the wrong decision? Was it decided that we would be much better off collaborating and making systems and weapons —actually focusing on how we design and develop—rather than on whole systems? The NFR90 has demonstrated the difficulty of trying to stick everything onto a single hull.

Mr. Clark

It certainly looks as though we are moving in that direction, but I would not like to lay down a positive guideline at this stage because the project is some 10 to 15 years in the distance.

Before I turn to our specific procurement programmes —no doubt Opposition Members will want to ask questions about that—I should like to mention our civilian staff, whose contribution to the nation's overall defence is critical. Yesterday the Chairman of the Select Committee paid tribute to them in his speech. We are a major employer with some 142,000 United Kingdom-based civilian staff spanning a range of several hundred different occupations in support of our armed forces. For our civilian staff, the past few years have seen many changes, not least the reduction in overall numbers from 248,000 in 1979 to the present level. I should also like to pay tribute to all the Ministry's civilian staff for the way in which they have managed the introduction of those changes while carrying on their valuable and important work.

We face problems of shortages in some grades and locations, which were well illustrated by the recent Select Committee report on staffing levels. We are grateful for that report and welcome its useful analysis of our staffing difficulties. Our response sets out what we are doing to improve the position.

Over the past 10 years, the Government have ordered a total of 64 major vessels and current annual expenditure on procurement for the Royal Navy is running at approximately £3 billion.

Since we last debated defence, two type 22 frigates, one Trafalgar class fleet submarine, one Hunt class mine counter-measures vessel and the first of a new class of single-role minehunters have been accepted into service. Twenty-two vessels are under construction. HMS Norfolk, the first of seven type 23 frigates so far ordered. and HMS Chatham—the last of 14 type 22 frigates—are both planned for acceptance into the fleet later in the year.

In the summer we received tenders for up to four more type 23 frigates and for an aviation support ship to provide dedicated helicopter support for amphibious operations —I know that Opposition Members are extremely keen on such operations.

Sir Geoffrey Johnson-Smith (Wealden)

Does the Royal Navy still want the naval version of the EH101 to enhance its anti-submarine activity? If so, what is the reason for the delay?

Mr. Clark

The reason for the delay is that the aircraft and the systems within it have not yet been accepted and they are still undergoing tests. I am sure that my hon. Friend and the House would agree that such testing must be as rigorous and as comprehensive as possible to ensure that the best items of equipment are taken into service.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Why should we not like amphibious operations?

Mr. Clark

Irony is never a success in this place—I should have learnt that by now. An ironic aside is always a disaster. I shall pass on it.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

It reads very well in Hansard as well.

Mr. Clark

One might be caught out in Hansard.

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

The House has had 26 minutes of this.

Mr. Clark

Does the hon. Gentleman want me to sit down? The House appears to be interested, judging from the number of interventions that have been made.

Right hon. and hon. Members will also be aware that we are analysing the results of feasibility studies into replacing our assault ships or extending their lives. We are carrying this work forward as quickly as we can and will make an announcement as soon as possible.

We are also in negotiation with Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd. over its tender for the third Vanguard class Trident submarine.

The first of the new class single role minehunters, HMS Sandown, was among those vessels accepted into the Royal Navy earlier this year. Four more of the class were ordered in 1987 and are proceeding to programme. I can advise the House today of our intention to seek tenders in the next few months for a further batch of those vessels —pre-eminent in the world in its class—for the Royal Navy.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Is that the only reference that the Minister intends to make to the Trident submarine? Is there any point in ordering another one if the missile system will not work? If we are to go ahead with the programme surely it would be much better to go for a totally redesigned submarine which would take the C4s rather than the D5s which have been suggested? Surely the entire programme is in question and there is little point in going ahead with another submarine if the Americans do not have a missile system that will work.

Mr. Clark

That is not the only reference that I shall make to the Trident system. I am aware of the temporary and minor technical uncertainties attacking the efficiency of the system.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

That is not what Congress said.

Mr. Clark

I was in Washington last week and I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman or his somewhat skittish colleague, the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) were there. I spoke to the chairmen of the various congressional committees and I spoke to them about the technical difficulties. I am satisfied that they are capable of quick solution and they are confident that the system will work.

We fully expect Upholder, the first of the new class of conventional submarines, to enter operational service early next year. This class of submarine will provide a powerful upgrade in the conventional operational capability of the Royal Navy. We are also presently considering proposals for the future generation of Hunter killer nuclear submarines—the SSN 20 class—which will incorporate the same propulsion plant that is to be used in the Trident boats, together with a sensitive new sonar.

Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

Does the Minister recall that yesterday evening I mentioned to him the possibility of frigate orders. Tens of thousands of workers will be anticipating the Minister's announcement. Is he going to order new frigates, and if so how many and when?

Mr. Clark

We have invited tenders for up to four new type 23s at present, which will be ordered within the year.

Mr. Boyes

December 1989, was it not?

Mr. Clark

It is a matter of evaluating the tenders. Plainly, the ships have to come at the best price. It is a matter of detailed and comprehensive technical evalua-tion, and the orders will be placed as soon as the tenders are accepted.

Mr. Ted Garrett (Wallsend)

I did not quite catch the Minister's point about the air support ships contract. Did he say that the studies had been completed? Will tenders be announced this year or next year?

Mr. Clark

Tenders will be announced next year.

Turning now to Army projects, we have made plain our determination to replace the Chieftain tank, and following my right hon. Friend's announcement in the House last December, Vickers Defence Systems was awarded a contract in January to demonstrate whether they can deliver Challenger 2 to specification, time and cost. We are approaching this purchase on a step by step basis and expect to take a decision on the next step by the end of 1990.

On the subject of small arms, Royal Ordnance plc has now delivered over 70,000 SA80 weapons and it is now in service with our front line units, and provides an improvement over its predecessor in terms of accuracy, rates of fire and compactness.

The LAW80 lightweight man-portable anti-tank weapon entered service in February 1988, and several thousand of these are now in service. As the House will be aware, the LAW80 programme has been the subject of detailed study by the Select Committee, whose report we are now considering. We will of course be responding to the various points the report makes.

We are particularly concerned to examine all options that collaboration may provide to meet the army's future needs. We are pursuing options with France and West Germany for medium and long-range third generation anti-tank guided weapon systems—TRIGAT—to replace our current MILAN, Swingfire and TOW systems. Additionally we are working with France, Germany and the USA and on the multiple-launch rocket system to help meet our depth fire requirements.

The Royal Air Force continues to reap the benefit of its major modernisation programme. Annual expenditure on air systems is running at approximately £3 billion. Since the House last debated defence, development contracts have been signed for the European fighter aircraft.

Many hon. and right hon. Members are, I know, concerned over the outstanding decision on the selection of a radar for EFA. Some have been to see me to represent the interests of their constituents. I have also seen the national officers and works representatives of the MSF. We have to ensure that the right choice of radar is made to take full account of operational, technical, risk and cost factors, although the process of reaching a decision with our collaborative partners is taking longer than we would have liked.

The Tornado programme continues to demonstrate what can be achieved through successful collaboration. Nine squadrons of Tornado GR1 strike/ground attack aircraft are now operational, as are four squadrons of the F3 air defence interceptor variant.

The first squadron of the new Harrier GR5 has been formed and declared operational with a second squadron working-up.

If I may turn now to our helicopter programme, I am pleased to inform the House that an instruction to proceed has been issued to Boeing Helicopters for the update of the RAF fleet of Chinook helicopters to the latest CH-47D standard.

The Royal Navy version of the Anglo-Italian EH101 in the anti-submarine warfare role is into full development. Five prototype aircraft have commenced flight testing and have completed more than 200 hours flying. Project definition of the utility version is continuing.

The success of British industry in meeting the demanding requirements of the British Armed Services is matched by its successes in the field of defence exports. The House will join me in congratulating British industry on another highly successful year. Aided by the Defence Export Services Organisation, we succeeded in 1988 in securing business valued at in excess of £3,500 million, thus making the United Kingdom the third largest exporter of defence equipment and services in the world.

Mr. Rogers

That does not seem to tally with the defence estimates, which show a decline in overseas sales of defence equipment from £1.2 billion to £781 million. Does the figure which the Minister has given to the House tally with our defence estimates?

Mr. Clark

The hon. Gentleman must be referring to a different year.

The benefits that success in export market brings are considerable in terms both of employment and foreign exchange. Overall, some 100,000 jobs in this country are sustained by the defence export business and the balance of trade on defence equipment currently shows a healthy surplus of some £500 million a year even before the full impact of recent increased levels of sales is felt.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

Why does the Minister refer to defence equipment? It is military equipment and can be used for aggression as well as defence. Are we honestly saying that we are one of the biggest exporters of military weapons that can be used against perhaps defenceless people? Is that the boast of the Government?

Mr. Clark

Yes, the hon. Gentleman is right: defence is a euphemism for all forms of weapons. As the hon. Gentleman knows, defence sales are strictly controlled and there are guidelines to which we defer which greatly restrict the scope that we have for selling in a number of different markets. I am sure that the House approves of that.

We continue to give our strong support to the sale of British equipment overseas wherever this is compatible with the United Kingdom's political, strategic, and security interests. The right of every nation to secure the means for its own defence is embodied in article 51 of the United Nations charter and the Government believe that there is scope within the context of our stringent scrutiny and export licensing procedures for meeting the legitimate demands of friendly countries. Indeed, a strong British influence in assisting nations to provide for their own defence, is regarded as a positive force in the search for global peace and security.

Mr. Cryer

The Minister invokes the United Nations charter as a means of defending the export of arms, so why does he defend the purchase of Trident when that is clearly in breach of clause 6 of the United Nations' non-proliferation treaty? Surely, it is incompatible to call in aid the United Nations for one section of defence expenditure, but ignore an important trade treaty which was, as he knows, signed by 133 non-nuclear nations when spending about £10,000 million on Trident nuclear weapons.

Mr. Clark

I understand why the hon. Gentleman wants to express that point on the Floor of the House. However, as he well knows, he has received a letter from my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces in which his query was answered at length. The House has been tolerant of the length of time which I have taken and I know that it would not want me to repeat that reply now.

Yesterday evening much was made of the divisions in the Labour party, which are self evident. I do not propose to return to them but my sympathies—like, I suspect, those of the majority of this House—are with those Opposition Members who speak from the heart, from conviction rooted deep in experience and tradition, in preference to the Labour leadership who are, at present, in their designer mode in which any policy, no matter how sacrosanct or how strongly supported by the movement, can be fine, tuned for a couple of points in the opinion polls.

Yesterday, I listened with great attention to the speech of the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn). I always come into the Chamber to hear his speeches. I recall his brilliant address on that somewhat self-satisfied occasion when the House was celebrating the tercentenary of the Bill of Rights. One's enjoyment of the right hon. Gentleman's contribution has to be tempered by the fact that he is always wrong. His whole record shows that in his judgment, performance and prediction he is always wrong.

Yesterday, he committed a further error which I must correct. He said that the Trident system was not independent and could not be operated without the consent of the President of the United States. I must tell him that that was the very first question to which I addressed myself in my first hours in this Department, and I put it to the senior officials in my Department. I was entirely satisfied by their answers and I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has given me the occasion to assert my complete confidence in the independence of our strategic deterrent.

Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield)

The hon. Gentleman has just told us that he has been told by civil servants that I am wrong, which is of great interest to the House, but I want to ask him one clear question: has he, or, for that matter, has the Secretary of State, even seen the agreements between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom governing the use of nuclear weapons in Britain by the Americans, or the use by Britain of nuclear weapons supplied by the United States? Unless he has, his comments are merely secondhand tittle-tattle from officials in his Department.

Mr. Clark

I interrogated my officials on the technical question. Of course I have not seen the agreements, but technical obstructions are more difficult to get over in times of crisis than pieces of paper. I doubt whether the right hon. Gentleman has seen the agreement either—

Dr. John Reid (Motherwell, North)

During the Minister's cosy chat with his officials in the first hours of his important new appointment, did the officials tell him in what circumstances the Government might be prepared to use Britain's nuclear weapons independently in an assault by or with the Soviet Union? If he described such circumstances to give some practical effect to his theoretical assertion, will he be good enough to share with us the views of his civil servants?

Mr. Clark

Certainly not, but I assure the hon. Gentleman that I postulated a series of circumstances—not necesarily in relation to the Soviet Union—to them.

Of course, there is a realisation, perhaps more firmly grounded among Conservative Members than among Opposition Members, that much is or may be changing. Of course, we welcome events in eastern Europe—the spread of democracy, the lowering of super-power tensions—and we realise that over the medium term, and if sustained, they will invite the consideration of new initiatives in policy, in force structure and in procurement. But my right hon. Friend has warned the House that empires can he at their most dangerous as they disintegrate, and although there have been many declarations of intent, force levels are little changed. Those charged with the defence of the United Kingdom must concern themselves with the facts as they are rather than as they may be at some future time, if all optimistic assumptions are fulfilled. I am entirely confident that the weapons procurement programme set out in these estimates is appropriate to our present needs, and I commend them to the House.

5.44 pm
Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

We have listened to the Minister for 42 minutes and I am sure that most Opposition Members, at least, are more confused than we were when he started. To bring him up to date with his own business, I must point out that the year that was referred to earlier—he seems a little confused about it—was 1989. The hon. Gentleman has his figures hopelessly wrong; he should read his own "Statement on the Defence Estimates".

Yesterday, Conservative Members spent all their time criticising the Labour party's defence policy. We quite understand—as I hope to demonstrate before I conclude —the reasons why they want to concentrate on our policies and not their estimates. The hon. Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward), who is not here this evening, spent much time bleating about the job losses that would ensue if the Labour party were elected. That is fairly ripe coming from a party and a Government who use unemployment as an economic tool, regardless of the human misery it causes. Over the past 10 years, the Government have presided over an economy in which more than 4 million people have been unemployed—and they bleat about job losses.

That is even more ripe coming from a Ministry of Defence which has reduced service personnel by 4 per cent. since 1984 and has reduced the civilian labour force in the MOD by 21,000 since 1987—these figures are given in the estimates. The Government have reduced employment in defence-related industries by 115,000 in seven years, yet the hon. Member for Kingswood had the cheek to bleat about the possible loss of 10,000 jobs —

Mr. Cecil Franks (Barrow and Furness)


Mr. Rogers

I have only just started.

The Government have cut, delayed and reduced so much that Westland, which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Kingswood, despairs of getting an order for the EH101. While we are on the subject of Westland, perhaps the Minister of State for the Armed Forces will tell us when he winds up whether the Ministry of Defence will place orders for the Royal Navy variant of the EH101. When will there be a firm order for the troop-carrying variant for the Army, and when will the future of Westland be assured by the Department giving it some orders?

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rogers

Not now. Others gave way to the hon. Gentleman too much yesterday and many of my hon. Friends want to participate in the debate. I shall give way only at certain times so that we can make progress.

I am sorry that the Secretary of State is not here. I was rather surprised that he said that he had to go to an urgent meeting. The dates for this debate were set by the

Government, but I have told the right hon. Gentleman that I am going to refer to him on more than one occasion—

The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. Archie Hamilton)

The Secretary of State has made it clear that had it not been for the Home Secretary's statement today he would have been here to hear the hon. Gentleman's speech. As it is, everything was delayed, and that is why he has had to leave.

Mr. Rogers

I am sorry that the Secretary of State cannot be here for the full two days of debate, because I want to refer to his shabby speech yesterday. In an attempt to smear the Labour party and my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) he referred, in relation to the rise of Hitler and his Nazi thugs, to the sort of dangerous, easy solution that led us to abandon our defences at a crucial time with the consequent disasters of the 1930s."[Official Report, 18 October 1989; Vol. 158, c. 149.] The Secretary of State was trying to link what happened in the 1930s, and appeasement, with Labour party policy and the Soviet Union. That was the thrust of his argument, but he did not have the grace to apologise to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield when he was corrected. He should take the trouble to examine the history of the 1930s.

I want to place on record a few comments made by Conservative Members at the time. The then right hon. Member for Saffron Walden, speaking at Bridgwater, the constituency of the present Secretary of State for Defence, said: Why can we not make friends with Italy and Germany? There are people saying Herr Hitler has broken his word. I tell you there is one bargain he has made—that is, that the German Navy should only be one-third of the British Navy —which he has kept, and kept loyally". That was the view of R. A. Butler. Mr. L. C. M. S. Amery, the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook, said: We cannot afford to pursue any policy which would bring us into conflict with Germany, Italy and Japan. C. T. Culverwell, the hon. Member for Bristol, West said: I ask those who hate Hitler … what has Hitler done of which we can reasonably complain? In 1936 the Prime Minister told the House: Supposing I had gone to the country and said that Germany was rearming and that we must rearm, … I cannot think of anything that would have made the loss of the election from my point of view more certain."—[Official Report, 12 November 1936; Vol. 317, c. 1144.] I repeat such remarks for one purpose. They make Conservative Members uncomfortable. They attempt to smear the Labour party and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) said yesterday, it greatly offends us when Conservatives try to relate our party to the Communist Government in Russia. It was the Conservative party that consorted with the Nazis and their thugs in the 1930s. The Secretary of State's remarks yesterday about the Labour party were appalling. The present Government give succour and credence to Fascist regimes throughout the world.

Mr. Timothy Wood (Stevenage)

It should be made clear that in his speech yesterday the Secretary of State spoke about "us"—the British Government and people in the 1930s. In his speech he did not refer to the Labour party. The only hon. Member who made a specific reference to people at that time was the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), who spoke about the Prime Minister of the day. The difference now between the Conservative party and the Labour party is that we have learned from experiences then and the Labour party has not.

Mr. Rogers

That is absolute rubbish. If the hon. Gentleman refers to column 149 of yesterday's Hansard, he will see that what he has just said is complete tripe.

When he was speaking about the NATO commitment yesterday, the Secretary of State said: We should make a proper contribution to the defence of the West. I am proud not only of the cost but of the quality of the contribution that we make to NATO.—[Official Report, 18 October 1989; Vol. 158, c. 151.] Perhaps the Minister of State for the Armed Forces will tell us why the Government have cut their commitment to NATO. Why have they given up the 3 per cent. increase on annual expenditure? Perhaps he can instruct the Secretary of State for Defence to get his facts right. Last year the Select Committee on Defence drew the Government's attention to the matter in the first paragraph of the second part of its comments on the defence estimates.

The trouble with the Government is that they think that strategic choices can be avoided simply by saying that they are seeking better value for money. In last year's debate the Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement made heavy weather of that dictum. Things would be all right if the Government knew the meaning of value, but they understand only the cost and that inability is the fundamental cause of the rottenness of all their policies, whether in health, social services or defence. In the same way as the Health Service is not safe in their hands, neither is defence. If it means anything, Thatcherism means looking at public spending, in the light not of what is desirable but of what is affordable and the Government ask themselves how can they get it as cheaply as possible. That is the underlying basis of the Procurement Executive and the Ministry of Defence. The Government spend as little as they can and pay no attention to the quality or whether an item can be delivered on time or even if it works. We have seen that with the Foxhunter radar.

The Government have never matched the ends of their defence policy to their means, or vice versa. Their defence and procurement policies are in shreds. In yesterday's debate, one of my hon. Friends drew attention to the cuts in the budget over the last few years. That is why our amendment asks for a review of Britain's defence roles. John Nott was the last Minister to face the problem in 1981, and he made the wrong choices. So bad was his judgment that hon. Members know that if the Falklands invasion had happened a year or so later we would have been incapable of striking back. However, today we are almost down to the 42-frigate Navy that John Nott proposed. As we said yesterday, the number of frigates in operation is in the low 30s.

The defence review in the last 10 years was carried out by stealth and incompetence. Conservative Members criticise the Labour party about cuts, but consistent cuts have been happening for the last six years, and between now and 1991 we will see the cuts proposed in the estimates. They will mean that our front-line service men will have planes that cannot fly to their full efficiency. The Minister mentioned the Tornado aircraft but not all those aircraft have radar in the nose to enable them to be properly used. There are 29 Tornados in storage because they do not have the radar that is necessary for operation. Those are the sort of planes that our Air Force has to use, yet the Minister says that he is proud of his procurement policy. Any analysis of the Defence Estimates shows a gloomy picture of cuts.

The previous Secretary of State for Defence, the right hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), acknowledged in his evidence to the Select Committee on Defence that he would have difficulty in funding desirable parts of his programme. The report of that Committee says: We would have liked to have ordered 8 AWACS aircraft, we have accepted that we can do the job acceptedly with 7". That is typical of the present process. Eight AWACS are required for the defence of the country, but the Government say that they do not have enough money for that and will have only seven. However, they say that it does not matter and that the job can be done with seven.

Mr. Alan Clark

May we assume that all the cuts will be restored by a Labour Government if they ever take office? Is the hon. Gentleman preparing us for greatly increased defence expenditure?

Mr. Rogers

At the moment we are discussing the Government's estimates. [Interruption.] I wish that the Government Whip would not murmur. If he wants to speak, he has only to stand up, if he can. I want to concentrate on the estimates before us because Ministers did not do that yesterday. I shall later come to other matters.

I know that it hurts Conservative Members to look at the estimates, but if they do they will see that inflation is calculated at 2 per cent. The relative price effect was discussed at great length last year in the Select Committee. In view of the way that inflation is running, there is no way, even with the extra notional cash in the estimates, that we will be able to meet our defence requirements. Increases in service pay and pensions are running at 7 per cent. and there are likely to be further increases in view of the problems of manpower retention and recruitment.

The Secretary of State, who is not here, had the effrontery to criticise the Labour party on this issue. At the Conservative party conference last week he said: Two great companies (Harland and Wolff) and (Shorts), no longer enfeebled by endless dependence on taxpayer support, but now proudly under new ownership in the private sector". Then he stopped for his two-minute clap.

I would tell the Secretary of State, if he were here, that Shorts was "enfeebled" by the public purse—"enfeebled" to the tune of £1,000 million of taxpayers' money, which went to fatten it up so that it could be handed over to friends of the Tory party. Enfeebled, indeed. One of the main proponents of that was the Secretary of State, when he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The same man ensured that the Tucano contract was granted to Shorts—I shall say more about that later. The specification was changed, at great cost to the taxpayer and, potentially, to the nation's security. What hypocrisy on the part of the Secretary of State, who has the cheek to come to the Chamber and criticise the Labour party after what he has done to our defence budget.

At the Conservative party conference, the Secretary of State saw fit to demean himself by referring to the action of a few people in the Labour party who organised a fringe meeting with Sinn Fein in Brighton. In his speech, he attempted to smear the whole Labour party. I do not want to descend to the gutter politics of the Secretary of State, but let me ask a question which, perhaps, his friends will pass on to him.

Did the Secretary of State, along with his friends from the Conservative party—I cannot believe that he did—attend the meeting with the neo-Nazi Mr. Blot of the French National Front, who was invited to address the party at Blackpool? [HON. MEMBERS: "He did not come."] Did the Secretary of State visit sMr. Derby-Lewis, of the Fascist South African Conservative party, in Blackpool? Again, I cannot believe that he did. If he did not meet them —whether they came or not—[interruption.] They were invited, and when the Secretary of State returns to the House he may wish to distance himself from many of his colleagues who would have gone to the meetings in Blackpool, and did go to one of them. Those members of his party were happy to consort with the Fascists of Europe and the world. And the Secretary of State has the cheek to criticise the fringe meeting that was organised in Brighton.

After his "Communism and Socialism" tripe of yesterday, to which of the wings of the Tory party are we to understand that the Secretary of State belongs? Does he belong to the wing that consorted with the Nazi thugs in the 1930s? I am not sure about the Minister of State for Defence Procurement; would he care to say whether he belongs to that wing of the party?

At the Conservative party conference, the Secretary of State referred to Tiananmen square: When old men get frightened of losing control, it can get very nasty". That, of course, can apply to aging women as well. If the Secretary of State's criticism is correct, can the Minister tell me why he authorised the sale of arms to Red China a few weeks ago? If the Government condemn the "old men" and the regime, why do they give them succour, credence and the ability to dominate their people? Why are they giving them the weapons for internal repression? This was equipment that could be fitted to fighter planes, not strike bombers. If the Secretary of State wishes to criticise China, perhaps he should consider that aspect of his job.

The Secretary of State said that he was proud of the reception that the Prime Minister is given in Warsaw, Gdansk, Moscow and Budapest. But why does she not receive it in Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham and Wales — areas where the present Government's policies have made the Prime Minister loathed, not loved, and where she never walks the streets? Yesterday the Secretary of State strutted around talking about having consorted with the Hungarian and German regimes, but members of the Government do not have the courage to visit parts of their own country.

The acid test of defence procurement policy is whether our soldiers, airmen and sailors have the equipment that they need to carry out their duties, on time, in place and in working order. The Government fail that test in every contract. There are delays, slippages and cuts, with the result that our service men do not obtain their equipment as and when they should.

The policy of competitive bidding might have some credibility if the Procurement Executive and the Ministry of Defence knew what they were doing, and fulfilled their side of the bargain. The background, however, is one of changing requirements and specifications. Companies have complained to us that the Government are not giving them proper specifications, sufficient data or proper drawings, and, at the last moment, change everything round again. We know the technique, as do the members of the Select Committee: it is all because the Government are cutting back. It is a simple technique to move things off the shelf so that there can be delays.

As a result of all the pressure, companies are underbidding to obtain contracts. There is the classic instance of United Scientific Holdings, the company of which Sir Peter Levene was chairman before the became chairman of the Procurement Executive. It fell hopelessly behind, and was unable to complete a contract for a thermal optical guidance system for tanks. Tanks are now operating in Germany that can fight only by day. The men are praying that the Russians will not dare to arrive at night, because the tanks cannot operate then. And this is the Minister of State who is proud of his procurement record. The first thing that he should do is talk to the workers out there who are producing the equipment. He should listen to their complaints, and then go to see our service men and ask them about their problems.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rogers

The hon. Gentleman has just come into the Chamber, so I shall not give way to him.

Mr. Franks

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rogers

I will give way to the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks), because he has been in the Chamber for some time.

Mr. Franks

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman.

One of the companies that have spoken to the Labour party is Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd. Not only management but shop stewards went specially to the Labour party conference to ask the Labour defence team what its proposals were for the work force of 14,000 if Trident 4 was cancelled. Let me ask the hon. Gentleman specifically what the Labour party expects those 14,000 ment in the shipyards in Barrow to do on a Monday morning if a Labour Government had cancelled Trident 4 on the Saturday.

Mr. Rogers

VSEL is not one of the companies that I talked to.

Criticism is both explicit and implicit in the Select Committee report on procurement, but business and industry have expressed criticism as well. It has come from, for instance, Peter Sachs, director of the Electronics and Business Equipment Association. The Minister of State said that, when my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) criticised his policy yesterday, he did not know what he was talking about. I suggest that the Minister does not know what he is talking about.

Peter Sachs and others are saying that our present bidding policy is ridiculous—and it is ridiculous. Companies are being forced to bid when they know that they cannot produce: the thermal optical guidance system is an obvious example. The Government are sitting back and letting the United Kingdom defence electronics base be run down, and the relationship between British and other European contractors is a subject which the Government rarely mention, except in vague terms of collaboration. Even yesterday, it took interventions from my right hon. and hon. Friends to get anything from the Secretary of State on the crisis presently facing Ferranti.

In the past year, the Government have made mistake after mistake. German and French companies are moving into our defence industry, but always ensuring that the research and development base remains in their own countries. We have ended up without the industrial capability to maintain our military forces. Our industrial base is being destroyed.

Mr. Michael Jack (Fy1de)

In pursuit of his desire to make sure that we have our defence equipment on time, does the hon. Gentleman support and condone the attempt being made by members of the engineering union to go for a 35-hour week? Does he support their call for strike action, which would undoubtedly delay the delivery of our defence equipment?

Mr. Rogers

Yes. Quite honestly, I support our engineers in going for exactly what our competitors in Germany and other countries have. If they have a 35-hour week in Germany, I would support it here. The problem and the difference is that the management of our industry may well be at fault. I am not going to give a simplistic answer to an extraordinarily complicated question, except to say that it is no good the Government claiming credit for something that is not happening. No one can deny that there are delays, cuts and slippages.

The Government's record on procurement is appalling. That does not surprise me because they do not have any real experience. They like to pretend that they have experience. When the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) became Secretary of State for Defence, he was applauded and Conservative Members were glad to have a business man in charge of defence, but quite frankly, I see no evidence of any great business or entrepreneurial skills among the present team. They try to portray themselves as a "business" Government, wise in the ways and the alleys of the markets. They pretend that they know their way about, but they do not. Their only real contact with big business is when they lose their jobs in Government, when they are booted out by the headmistress and a company takes them on as a business toy boy. They take them on for their contacts, hoping to acquire a few contracts here and there. The Conservative Benches are filled with those toy boys who are the playthings of the City of London and big business simply because of the contacts they have. We know how much they are into big business.

Mr. Hind

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rogers

Not at the moment.

I shall say a few words about exports, as the Secretary of State referred to them. It is a great pity that the Minister did not know anything about his own estimates, but I assure him that there has been a decline in overseas sales in defence equipment from £1.2 billion to £781 million —a 37 per cent. fall in the past year. The past year has also seen the revelations surrounding the Saudi-Jordanian deal and the Malaysian deal. It was hilarious to see the Prime Minister running away from any responsibility for the deals, especially after her pronouncement last week: We are not that sort of party. The Prime Minister was totally involved in the arms deals with the Malaysians and with the Saudis. Originally, she was quite proud to take the accolades, but when the dirtiness and corruption of those deals came out, she wanted to distance herself from them as much as possible.

The morality of arms trading is not at issue here and I shall not discuss that. What are at issue are the ways and methods used to obtain contracts and the linking of defence contracts to overseas aid. If the Government are to be believed about their role in those contracts—and quite frankly, I do not believe them —they stand accused of mismanagement and allowing the tail to wag the dog.

My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), who is not in his place at the moment, scoffed a little at the Minister of State when he talked about the Defence Export Services Organisation. I asked the Minister of State to look at the organisation urgently. It really does require it. There has been a huge expansion of top management at a time of cuts in the operational armed services.

Mr. John Reed of the Defence Industry Digest set out the facts and figures. He wrote that in London alone, there are one four-star and four three-star ranks of their civilian equivalents and 35 principals of colonel equivalent, very few of them being serving officers. It is probably the most top-heavy Department.

British service advisers and attaches overseas are used by some defence contractors on a free basis. If the DESO's primary task is to pass on information to industry, does it really require some 50 red-hat equivalents? No wonder jobs in the organisation are highly prized.

Mr. Alan Clark

I am entirely satisfied with the composition, the organisation and the work of the DESO. It has performed very creditably in expanding our export sales. Let me clear the air about the dispute over the two figures. The hon. Gentleman will find those which I quoted in my speech on page 33 of the defence estimates at paragraph 416: New contracts signed in 1988 are expected to be worth some £3,500 million, and the United Kingdom is now the world's third largest defence exporter. That was the phrase that I used. The payments received in that year were £781 million, but the total will lead forward into 1989–90. The total contracts signed in that year were £3.5 billion.

Mr. Rogers

I am sorry, but I think that the Minister of State should do a little more homework on his own estimates. As I understand paragraph 416—and the Minister should read it again—

Mr. Clark

You read it.

Mr. Rogers

No, you read it. You obviously do not understand it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)

Order. I am not required to.

Mr. Rogers

The Minister of State obviously does not understand it, because that paragraph refers only to the Saudi deal. It mentions the £3.5 billion on that contract which is to be fulfilled over some years, and not the total export sales. The Minister got the figure wrong yet again.

Before I conclude I wish to refer to a couple of specific issues. One is the Tucano, which has come into partial operation. It is a classic example of the Government's lack of business skills. The changing of the performance requirement meant that in late April only 15 out of the 59 aircraft had been delivered. It was years behind schedule. In his statement on 4 July 1989, Sir Peter Levene boasted about a £60 million saving on the first of his new deals, but it just so happened that he had to give £1 billion to Shorts, the contractors, in order to bail them out. That had nothing to do with Shorts; it resulted from the Department's incompetence.

I could say a great deal more about the Tucano. May I say how sad I am that the Air Force and the Ministry of Defence do not realise that it has come into service? They have been waiting so long for the plane, yet they do not know that it is in service, and that is very sad. May I hand the Minister of State a copy of the RAF advertisement in The Observer on 6 August 1989? It said: Sits. Vac: No previous experience required. It says that all one has to do if one wants to fly a fast jet is join the Air Force and be trained. The advertisement sets out step-by-step training. Pilots begin on the Chipmunk "Your first trainer". Then they go to Jet Provost, "Your first jet", then to the Hawk for "Fast-jet experience", and then to the Tornado so that they can zoom along at 250 ft at 500 mph. I hand the advertisement over to the Minister of State. Will he tell them that at last we have the Tucano and they can put it in their adverts for step-by-step training for RAF officers?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am hesitant to interrupt the hon. Gentleman in mid-flow, but I remind him that he must address his remarks to the Chair, not to individual hon. Members or Ministers.

Mr. Rogers

Indeed. May I ask the Minister of State through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if he would look at that advertisement?

There are many other examples of Government incompetence and mismanagement of the defence economy, such as the Marconi scandal, the Foxhunter radar delays—Foxhunter is four years behind schedule —ALARM, which is a classified number of years behind schedule—the Government will not let us know how many —and £260 million over cost, the Tornado, of which there are 29 in storage at a minimum cost of £20 million each, the Rapier field standard, which is still not in service and is £77 million over cost and Sea Wolf, which is a classified number of years behind schedule and £50 million over cost. This week's scandal is the light anti-armour weapon. I pay tribute to the Select Committee for the tremendous work it has done in exposing such examples of Government incompetence.

Mr. Alan Clark

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Rogers

No, I will not—sorry, I will.

Mr. Clark

I intervene only to inform the hon. Gentleman that, although he has given way to few hon. Members, he has been speaking for as long as I did.

Mr. Rogers

That is the Minister's problem, not mine.

Yesterday, the Secretary of State spoke derisively of our amendment and said it was "a pathetic cobbling together" of Labour party aspirations. Perhaps he should have read the amendment. It condemns: the cowardly attacks of murderous paramilitary groups. Is that what the Secretary of State calls "pathetic"? Our amendment calls for the spending of money to secure our military bases and save lives. Is that what the Secretary of State calls "pathetic"? It asks the Government to examine the allocation of taxpayers' resources to see—just to see —whether they can be released for helping people who are sick, elderly or mentally infirm. is that what the Secretary of State calls "pathetic"?

I suggest that it is not we who are pathetic—or our amendment—but the Secretary of State. In a few short weeks, he has reduced himself —and thus the dignity of his office—to a pathetic public school sneak and a pathetic sycophant of a Prime Minister who has outlived her time.

6.22 pm
Mr. Julian Amery (Brighton, Pavilion)

The hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) evoked the ghost of Neville Chamberlain. He did not do so as elegantly as his right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), who put the story better. They were both right to do so, although not for the reasons they had in mind.

The case against Neville Chamberlain is fairly simple. He hoped that he could do business with Hitler and he let his hopes determine the order of battle of our British forces. He did not spend enough on defence because he was a strong social reformer. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister thinks that she can do business with Mr. Gorbachev and has said so, but the last thing she has in mind is to let her hopes of doing business with the Soviet Union determine our defences.

We have to keep up our guard. The Labour party should realise clearly that perestroika and glasnost are the children not only of Mr. Gorbachev but of President Reagan's rearmament and his determination to confront the Soviet Union against its regional imperialist aggressions of the past few years. It is strength which is producing detente, so let us not lower our guard in any way until we can harvest the fruits of what is happening now.

The hon. Member for Rhondda called for a review of defence policy. I urge my right hon. and hon. Friends not to undertake a review now because the situation in Europe and the world generally is in flux. However, it may be acceptable for someone in an independent position such as mine to speculate a little on the implications for defence of the changes taking place.

In western Europe, we are putting together vast economic and, in due course, financial assets in the European Community on a scale that has never been seen before. The European Community will be a larger economic and financial area than Japan or the United States. If one puts such interests together, one has the responsibility to promote those interests. Therefore, one must have a foreign policy, because foreign policy is wholly concerned with the promotion of interests, and one must have a policy to protect those interests. There must be some concept of a European defence. I do not want to go into detail today about what that should be, but we must face up to the reality.

After two world wars and the experience of the cold war, the United States recognises that it has an abiding interest in the security of Europe. However, we should recognise that it is under great economic pressure resulting from its budget deficit and its trading deficit, which are not unconnected with the events of last Friday. The United States also has great interests in the Pacific. It would be only wise to recognise that we may face a diminution of the contribution of the United States to European defence and perhaps a diminution of the responsibility for leadership which it has hitherto accepted. That means that an increased burden will be put on us Europeans.

What shall we do about that? I see little prospect of greatly increasing European defence expenditure. However, the Labour party, as a Socialist party, should perhaps talk a little more about nuclear policy with the French Government, who are Socialists in office. France, whichever Government have been in power, has always been sound on the importance of maintaining a deterrent. If the French Socialists think that that is right, the Labour party should consider carefully whether there is not some logic in the French position.

The great weakness of the European pillar of the Atlantic Alliance is that it has a gaping hole. France does not take part in NATO. France is geographically central and, with Spain and Portugal now in the Alliance, it is perhaps the most important country in the Alliance. We cannot defend Europe without France.

The other weakness of the Atlantic Alliance is that it makes no provision for out-of-area co-operation, yet we did a remarkable job—I congratulate the former Secretary of State on this—through the Western European Union in the Gulf when there was a war there. His determined but discreet handling of the matter has done much to restore the prestige we lost when we withdrew—incontinently, in my judgment—from the Gulf some years ago.

If one transfers one's glasses to eastern Europe, one sees that enormous changes are taking place which also have great implications for defence. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State spoke about the need not to destabilise the Warsaw pact. He used the phrase "in the short term", and I think that he is right in the short term. We do not want to destabilise the pact; but will it hold together? If press reports are correct, yesterday the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest appeared to adopt a constitution that is incompatible with Hungary's membership of the Warsaw pact.

Changes in Germany will have some bearing on the position. If East Germany reforms, the reunification of East and West Germany will be inevitable. There will be no justification for that not happening if the command Socialist economy is removed. Will it be removed? It seems to me that it is happening and that nothing will stop it. People on the streets of Leipzig and Dresden are demonstrating. Others are walking away and emigrating. There will be an informal reunion of Germany, and East Germany may become simply another "land" or province of the Federal Republic, perhaps with a Soviet garrison in place for some time. Taken together with what is happening in Poland, Hungary and with what may happen in other east European countries, there is an earthquake in eastern Europe.

What is to be our attitude to that, and what are its defence implications? Two important statements have been made by important continental statesmen. In his speech in Bruges yesterday, Mr. Delors said that we must hasten to make Europe more federal and make the constitution tighter to bring it closer together. I understand his argument; it is the same argument that the French have been advancing since the beginning of the European movement. The argument is to lock the Germans into European union so that they cannot get out because a united Germany outside Europe would be too strong for Europe and the peace of the world.

I understand that argument, but I wonder whether it still makes sense. I do not think that the German horse has bolted yet, but I do not think that anyone will be able to shut the stable door. The reunion of Germany is taking place in front of our eyes.

The other view that has been put forward by the German Foreign Minister, Mr. Genscher, is outward-looking towards eastern Europe, in favour of German reunion and of giving massive aid to Poland and Hungary to associate eastern Europe with the European Community. There is an important contradiction between those views. If the European Community is made tighter and closer, it will be more difficult to associate it with the European Free Trade Association countries or, eventually with east European countries. If we want to associate the other countries—we have always hoped to see Europe united—it must not be made too strict and stringent.

In a curious way, that offers an important opportunity to Britain, and I think that defence may be the key. European union was created not by the treaty of Rome but by the agreements reached in 1955 at the Western European Union, at which this House undertook indefinitely to station in Germany an army corps and a tactical air force. If we had not done so, there would be no European union or treaty of Rome today. Western European Union was the condition on which the French accepted the rearmament of Germany and on which the Germans agreed to rearm.

That is a solid foundation. Defence is the foundation of any structure. Economics and social policies are essential and important, but defence determines the structure. I remember talking many years ago during the war to a war lord in the Balkans. I said, "What is more important, lead or gold —bullets or bullion?" He thought for a bit and said, "Lead can command gold. Gold can only try to buy lead." We now have a defence foundation for any lasting structure. That is what Churchill and Eden, in the early days of the European movement, understood very well. Churchill was the first to call for a European army and Eden produced the agreement under which the French agreed to German rearmament, and the Germans agreed to rearm.

Our forces are in Germany because of the Western European Union. Our troops are assigned to NATO, but they are not there because of it. If NATO were to dissolve tomorrow, our obligation to keep our troops there would remain. That is the foundation of the modern European union to which, in different ways and whatever we think about its final structure, all of us are committed.

The concept of Western European Union, quite rightly, has been in limbo. The cold war is not over yet, but while it lasted NATO took charge of defending our interests. As the world relaxes, if it does, the Western European Union can be the key to the future development of Europe. It was a British initiative, and it is time that my right hon. and hon. Friends gave it new impetus and organised its revival.

6.35 pm
Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

This is the second occasion on which I have had the privilege to follow the right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). He brings to defence matters a great depth of knowledge and a clear understanding of them, which I very much envy. He makes an important and effective contribution to debates such as this.

I feel a certain sense of precociousness in attempting to follow the right hon. Gentleman, but I should like to raise a matter of constituency interest to me but also of a more general application before I deal with some of the more general matters that the debate has thrown up.

My constituency interest is a matter with which Ministers will be familiar—search and rescue operations based at RAF Leuchars in my constituency. Ministers will be aware that, to some extent, such operations have been curtailed and are now carried out only in daylight hours. It is believed that the original proposal may have been to remove them altogether, but I suspect that the Ministry of Defence may have been rather surprised by the quality and intensity of the opposition that that suggestion provoked. Much community concern was expressed at the prospect, and there was much community relief when it appeared that facilities were not to be withdrawn entirely from RAF Leuchars.

The new arrangements are that, while operations will be flown in daylight hours, none will be begun after darkess sets in. Operations that have begun during daylight hours, which necessarily must be continued into the hours of darkness, will continue. For that purpose, training in darkness is necessary. It seems to many of my constituents singularly illogical to have training for darkness hours operations going on as a matter of necessity while being unwilling to allow 24-hour operations. I shall continue to attempt to persuade the Secretary of State and Ministers to change their minds about that matter, but for this evening's purpose I seek from the Secretary of State or a junior Minister an undertaking that the position at RAF Leuchars will be carefully monitored, and that, if there is any suggestion that the cover being provided under the revised arrangements is inadequate or insufficient, steps will be taken to try to remedy it.

I do not suppose that I am the only person to have seen the representations made by the General Council of British Shipping. The merchant fleet plays an essential role in the strategy of NATO, and the council has made representations to prevent the merchant fleet from continuing to dwindle. In the past six months, 20 vessels, with a combined deadweight of 755,000 tonnes, have been lost from British-owned shipping. It is the council's opinion that we are now several hundred ships too short to meet our NATO requirements, and in the past six months some 260 officers and 800 ratings have been lost from the merchant service. That raises substantial questions in the minds of many of us about our capacity to fulfil our NATO responsibilities. Those of us, including the Under-Secretary, who attended the Sealink conference at the United States naval academy earlier this year will remember that this matter stimulated considerable discussion and concern.

In time of emergency, it would be an unacceptable risk if the United Kingdom had to rely on flags of convenience or neutral ships to fulfil its NATO responsibilities. I shall be interested to hear what steps the Government are proposing to take in the light of the concrete criticisms made by the council

A wider issue is the continuing relations between East and West. It is clear that the changes in eastern Europe are not uniform., Hungary and Romania still remain a part, theoretically at least, of the Soviet bloc. They are still members of the Warsaw pact, although, as the right hon. Member for Pavilion pointed out, the continuance of Hungary in that may be in doubt, to be resolved at some later stage in the light of the decisions that were apparently taken yesterday.

Not only are these changes rapid; they are accelerating. Assumptions that were valid only a matter of months ago are rapidly becoming invalid. I can offer two anecdotal examples. At the North Atlantic Assembly a week or so ago, General Lobov, the commander-in-chief of the Warsaw pact, shared a platform with General Galvin, the Supreme Allied Commander—that was an extraordinary thing—and they did so under the benign chairmanship of the leader of our delegation to the assembly, who, with characteristic modesty, and no doubt with an eye to posterity, ensured that he was photographed standing between them.

The interesting feature of that was that the only other contact that the two commanders might reasonably have expected to have would have been if an emergency had been called and they had been sitting in bunkers 500 or 1,500 miles apart deciding whether they should recommend their respective political masters to take the ultimate step. That was a remarkable occasion.

My other anecdote might not be of such significance. My right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel) and I recently visited Bulgaria as the guests of the Bulgarian Agrarian party. The Bulgarians have a deep and abiding affection for the old Liberal party because Mr. Gladstone was one of the first to make a speech, an effective and telling speech, against the atrocities committed by the Ottoman empire against the Bulgarian nation. For that reason, in Bulgaria there is a warm welcome for members of the old Liberal party.

That warm welcome took an interesting turn because my right hon. Friend and I were given an interview within the Ministry of Defence. Afterwards we were told that we were the first western politicians who had ever been invited to cross the threshold of the Ministry of Defence. These are straws in the wind and are indicative of the fact that things are changing, sometimes rapidly and in a way that is difficult to comprehend. Responsible individuals must ask themselves whether these changes are irreversible. In an absolute sense they are not, for this reason. If one has the political will and the resources and is prepared to abandon any pretence at democratic institutions, dictatorship is always possible. But the changes that we have seen elsewhere have, for the foreseeable future, radically changed the terms of reference on relations between East and West.

Mr. Gorbachev walks a tightrope of expectation. In his country, there are those who wish him to fail because he is going too fast, and others who wish him to fail because he is going too slowly. Our interest is that he should succeed in his economic and political reforms. A reformed Soviet Union would be a much safer neighbour. However, a reformed Soviet Union would remain a considerable force in Europe. With such a force of power and potential influence, continuing United States influence in Europe will be necessary. Decoupling the United States from Europe will be in the interests of no one but the Soviet Union.

It now appears to be generally accepted that NATO will continue to be the cornerstone of our defence for the foreseeable future, just as, at least as far as we can tell, the Warsaw pact will continue to be the basis of security for the countries of the Soviet bloc. It is notable that almost the first thing that Mr. Lech Walesa said after the extraordinary changes in Poland that catapulted Solidarity into a remarkable position of influence was that there was no intention to leave the Warsaw pact.

In a period of change, there must be confidence not only between East and West but within the two alliances. Within NATO, that necessarily involves a recognition of the internal political realities, particularly in Federal Germany. The best way to allay legitimate fears about Germany is to ensure that federal Germany feels no discomfort in membership or acceptance of the obligations of NATO.

The decision on the modernisation of short-term nuclear weapons has been deferred until 1992. When that decision is made, it will perforce take account of prevailing political circumstances. If there have been, as there may be, three years of glasnost and perestroika from Herr Honecker's successor, that could have a profound effect on the mood in federal Germany in 1992.

The defence of the United Kingdom will be nuclear-based for a long time to come. One would have an optimism bordering on naivete to believe that nuclear weapons could be, in any foreseeable future, negotiated away in their entirety. That applies as much to British defence policy as it does to the policy of NATO. What is clear is that substantial reductions can be achieved and that we can move to a state of minimum deterrence.

If the START I talks are successful, there is no reason why there should not be a second round in which the United Kingdom is invited to seek further reductions. That would be consistent with the Harmel report of 1967, which I can sum up, I hope not unfairly, as being to the effect that we should modernise and deploy, but be willing to negotiate reductions. That would be consistent with the success of the INF treaty, a success that was gained not just because of the presence of cruise and Pershing missiles in Europe but because of the willingness to negotiate.

Government speeches—I suspect that those made today will show this on analysis—have concentrated on the need to deploy and modernise. I do not recall the Secretary of State saying much about the willingness to negotiate. The Prime Minister makes speeches that are not noted for their commitment to arms reduction. We know that in his previous ministerial existence the Secretary of State's qualities of tact and candour stood him in good stead in Northern Ireland. The House and the country look to him to use these qualities in an attempt to persuade the Prime Minister to mend her ways.

6.49 pm
Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Wealden)

It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) who is a welcome newcomer to our deliberations at the North Atlantic Assembly where he has already, with his sagacity, eloquence and precocious wit—which sometimes escapes the comprehension of the translators—made a most valuable contribution to our affairs. I am glad that he referred to the historic meeting which passed unnoticed in the western press. Thanks to the manner in which it was arranged and the conduct of the two principal protagonists, I had to separate them because the press was getting them into that eyeball-to-eyeball position that boxers adopt when they get into the ring. It was modesty. Moreover, I felt that we had to get into more relaxed circumstances. That was why I separated them with my arms around their shoulders.

I agree with what the hon. and learned Gentleman said, although he was most unfair about my right hon. Friends. the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State. The Prime Minister was the first to recognise, well ahead of any other leader, that we could do business with Mr. Gorbachev. The manner in which she conducted business with the leader of the Soviet Union earned his respect and helped increase his confidence in dealing with arms control which is a most difficult and sensitive issue in the Soviet Union. If we get that wrong, we shall simply revive the old paranoid fears of the Soviet Union. So far it is going well. That is why I congratulate my right hon. Friend on his appearance at the Dispatch Box yesterday, making his debut as Secretary of State for Defence. Were the sketchwriters to have taken note of it, we should have read that he had made a confident and impressive start to his new administrative responsibilities. It is important at this juncture that we should have a Secretary of State who brings a wealth of experience to those responsibilities.

The Secretary of State was right to refer to the feelings of optimism and hope that prevail in East-West relations. In that context, he made clear the importance that he attaches to the arms control talks that are taking place. Only two weeks ago in Rome we experienced that mood of optimism, to which the two generals referred.

Earlier in the year, under the leadership of the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) I was part of an NAA delegation to Moscow. We met with the utmost courtesy and had candid talks with the Soviet Prime Minister, members of the Politburo, newly elected members of the Supreme Soviet and the chief of defence staff with his senior military commanders. It was the first time that we had ever been recognised by the Soviet Union. We could not have had a more productive meeting. That mood of optimism and hope has been reflected subsequently in further talks.

The meetings show a willingness to continue talks on the immensely complicated arms control problems. No one could have come from them without a strong feeling that there was a real chance of ending the cold war and that eastern European countries have a fresh opportunity to build a relationship with us through which democratic values can take root and flourish. More meetings are planned. We are interested not only in ending the cold war, but in human values and freedom, and that is behind the thinking of our Secretary of State.

The Secretary of State was right not only to mention this constructive attitude, but to inject a note of caution. I am glad that he plans to make several visits to the Soviet Union. As he said, despite the changes that we have witnessed, a whole new set of problems has been created as we move into this new and promising era. Paradoxically, those changes may induce a period of instability. It would be foolish not to recognise and understand sympathetic-ally the internal problems that the new Soviet leaders face. After four years of perestroika, the Soviet people find themselves not better off but worse off, and their quality of life is far too low. The military can and does express its anxieties about where all this is leading. Glasnost is difficult for a Soviet general of the old school to understand, as we discovered in our talks.

As my right hon. Friend emphasised, the political and economic structure of the Soviet Union is changing. We want it to change, but we do not want the whole fabric of Soviet society to crumble. It is vital to recognise that it is not our business to interfere in Soviet internal affairs or to seek the destruction of the Warsaw pact. We seek to promote more peaceful ways and to reduce what we believe to be a military threat to our security.

In many areas, Soviet intentions have yet to be translated into action. It is not wrong to point out that there has been an impressive modernisation of Soviet forces during the Gorbachev regime. Perhaps that is part of his trade-off with elements in the Soviet Union. It is encouraging that progress is being made in the talks on conventional forces in Vienna. Unless they are properly handled and well thought out, these agreements may contribute to existing destabilising influences in western Europe.

Western Europe continues to face the most powerful concentration of aggressively configured conventional forces in the world. The Soviet bloc has more tanks and armoured vehicles than we have and concentrates on troops capable of surprise attack behind the western defence lines—its operational mobile groups. To achieve a build-down of armaments in both East and West without adding to instability or weakening security is technically, let alone politically, a gigantic and complicated exercise.

Hon. Members who follow such matters know that one reason why it is difficult to reach agreement and across-the-board solutions is that Soviet forces are configured asymmetrically. The Soviets say that we should bring our naval forces into the discussions on conventional forces. We disagree, because we regard our naval forces as defensive and at a time of crisis essential to safeguard our lines of supply with our NATO allies and between the United States and the continent of Europe. It would he equivalent to asking the Soviet Union to bring its road and rail communications into the discussions and to include for debate the concentration of logistic support between it and East Germany. Its lifeline is its road and rail networks, whereas ours is our Navy.

We have also been criticised for not including sufficient aircraft in the conventional forces talks. We know that, although defensively configured, we at least retain within the forces stationed in Germany an offensive tactical Air Force capable of striking deep into eastern Europe, particularly into East Germany. That is because in an overwhelming conventional attack it is essential for us to have a nuclear-capable Air Force which can strike at the choke points. It also has a conventional capability with which low flying aircraft can cut off the Soviet Union's vast reserves. Those asymmetrical differences cause misunderstanding and difficulties when we are trying to negotiate a decent arms agreement.

Gestures such as one-sided disarmament or severe reductions in our defence budget cut no ice with Russian military leaders. They would not give anything away and they do not expect us to. They expect hard bargains and trade-offs. If we give anything away voluntarily, we can expect to get nothing back in return.

It is important to remember—this is on all fours with the comments by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State—that the Soviets need an orderly build-down. They will interpret by how much that will occur in the light of their interests. They expect us to do likewise. That is the right way to proceed.

Opposition Members will understand why I hold no brief for the vote taken at the Labour party conference which was overwhelmingly in favour of one-sided disarmament and called for a big cut in our defence budget. I was very glad to hear the assurance from the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers), that that would form no part of the Labour party's defence policy. The Government will not mock that and we know that the hon. Member for Rhondda has difficulties. However, it is essential that we keep in step because we have entered a very difficult phase in arms control. The responsible approach espoused by the hon. Member for Rhondda is more useful than the political capital used by some of his hon. Friends who claim that the Conservatives are the war-minded party and that we are not interested in arms control or peace, but only in the build-up of arms. That is a complete distortion of the Conservative party view.

Some Opposition Members believe that by appealing over the heads of the negotiators and calling for an across-the-board reduction in our defence budget, they will make a sympathetic appeal to the British public. It is important that the Government should take the initiative and begin to explain the problems and opportunities for an orderly and balanced reduction in arms between the NATO Alliance and Warsaw pact countries. The Government must explain what is needed if we are to cut down the ability to wage war.

In that respect, I welcome the decision of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to set up a centre for defence studies. I am sure that that decision is right because we are not as well educated as we might be and we need another independent group. A few years ago the Ministry of Defence introduced essays into the defence White Paper about different aspects of defence. There was a brilliant essay on the role of philosophy behind the theory of deterrents, particularly nuclear deterrents. The essays explained the objectives of our defence and the alternatives for meeting some of the problems. The essays examined the philosophy and underlying principles of our defence policies.

Next year's defence White Paper should turn its attention to some of the options open to us if we succeed in agreeing with the Warsaw pact on a number of outstanding issues. Certain hypotheses are already being kicked around in Vienna. There is nothing top secret about them. We would like to know the military and financial implications of potential agreements.

It is important that we understand what kind of forces will remain. We will not get rid of all armed forces. Given certain hypotheses, we need to know the implications for our equipment and strategy. We need to know more about the way in which we are approaching a reduction in military confrontation. There is no paucity of ideas, which include buffer zones, defensive defence concepts and the different types of equipment that we can order in greater profusion to promote deployment of early warning. Other equipment will introduce intrusive verification techniques. None of that equipment is cheap. While some people may believe that a publicised analysis of such forward thinking is premature and may excite hopes which may be unfulfilled, others might think that it could give away too much of our negotiating position. I disagree with those views.

The essays that I have described could help to carry our people with us including those who serve in our armed forces. The conventional imbalance has long been at the heart of our security problem and is the primary reason for our reliance on nuclear weapons. Achieving a more stable conventional balance will have many beneficial effects. Frankly, I do not believe that it will save a great deal of money, but it may, among other things, permit a less demanding attitude towards our nuclear requirements and have a significant bearing on German sensitivities. It will certainly provide a test of Mr. Gorbachev's intentions concerning European security.

The Government should take a lead in outlining in greater clarity and detail their thoughts on the implications of arms control in which our country plays such a constructive role.

Several Hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. Before I call the next hon. Member, I remind the House that Mr. Speaker has determined that speeches should be limited to 10 minutes between 7pm and 9pm.

7.5 pm

Dr. John Gilbert (Dudley, East)

It is a great pleasure, as always, to follow my old friend the hon. Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith), who is extremely knowledgeable about defence matters and about many other matters on which he and I will not have time to touch today.

I also congratulate the Secretary of State on his accession to what I consider to be one of the most important offices of state. I remember that many years ago, when I held a junior position in the Ministry of Defence, the present Secretary of State came to see me about a matter concerning an ordnance factory in his constituency and argued the case for his constituents with great courtesy and vigour. I was grateful to him then.

I also congratulate the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Clark) on becoming Minister of State for Defence Procurement. He will at least ensure that our defence debates in future will be rather more entertaining, if not more enlightening.

I want to begin by congratulating without qualification the Ministry of Defence on its progress in defence personnel matters since the last defence debate by its concession that there is a role for women pilots in the Royal Air Force. I fought for that unsuccessfully more than 10 years ago. I believe that the objections of the RAF were based largely on bigotry. I am glad that that has now been overcome and I look forward to women pilots performing a more and more valuable role in the MOD.

I hope that the new Secretary of State will consider closely a decision taken by his predecessor with regard to the monitoring of careers of recruits from ethnic communities.

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Tom King)

indicated assent.

Dr. Gilbert

I am grateful for the Secretary of State's acknowledgment of that.

I do not want to consider the merits of the argument tonight. There was a point of contention between the Secretary of State's predecessor and me and I know that the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor went as far as he felt that he could with respect to monitoring the recruitment of recruits from ethnic communities, but there was no provision for monitoring their subsequent career progress.

Some serious matters about procurement that have not been raised so far in this debate should be mentioned. The first issue relates to the procurement of the command and control system for the United Kingdom air defence project which is the subject of an editorial in the Computer Weekly magazine of 7 September. On the basis of that article, it would appear that ICL was basing its hid on a programming language different from that of the other competitors, or there must be an extraordinary explanation for the fact that ICL's bid of £37 million was at least £20 million less than that of any of its rivals.

Computer Weekly, which is a reputable magazine, states that there is a "whiff of scandal" around this contract. I hope that, if the Minister is not able to reply to that point tonight, I will get a detailed response in writing before long.

The NATO frigate decision is yet another deplorable illustration of this country's record in collaboration on defence projects. I am not making any party point. It goes back to the time of the tank gun. We agreed a NATO standard and then walked away from the agreed calibre of a gun. It goes back to the 180 degree turn that the Ministry of Defence has recently made in Air Force requirements for the European fighter. When I was at the Department it was to be optimised in the ground attack role, and it is now to be optimised in the air superiority role. It completely reversed our relations with the French and the Germans. Not surprisingly, the French took considerable umbrage at that.

I will not argue the merits of either set of requirements, but we have a growing reputation of being thoroughly unreliable in collaborative projects. We were taking the lead with the NATO frigate, but we walked away from it and others have subsequently walked away.

I asked the Minister a perfectly straightforward question today. I recognise that he is new in his job, but he utterly failed to answer my question. I asked what reasons led the United Kingdom to walk away from that project. It is all very well to say that we did not get agreed requirements. What was it in the requirements that the other nations agreed but was not satisfactory to the British Ministry of Defence?

We obviously have difficulties with the Trident programme. As the House will know, I support the United Kingdom procuring that system. I have great confidence that, before long, the Americans will sort out the technical! difficulties that they have encountered in the sea-borne version of the missile. I understand that the land-based firings were perfectly successful. Both Ministers were recently in Washington. I do not know what they both found to do over there, but I have no doubt that they were congenially greeted.

I suspect that the Minister of State for Defence Procurement had a rather less congenial welcome than his colleagues received, because the atmosphere in Washington that I have sensed in the past few weeks is that the present United States Secretary of State for Defence is wholly and understandably obsessed with budgetary matters. I am sorry to say that the idea that the moratorium on appropriations for the Trident programme by the Senate Appropriations Committee—I am not quite sure how far it has developed in the past few days; there have been further considerations of the matter—is unlikely to be affected by considerations of embarrassment to Her Majesty's Government or inconvenience to our Trident programme. These things need to be said forcefully and unambiguously.

I am as strong a supporter of the North Atlantic Alliance as any other hon. Member, but, from time to time, it needs to be said forcefully to our American friends that our requirements and imperatives need to be taken into account. That must be said to responsible leaders of Congress and not just to members of the Administration.

I have said that I was quite confident that problems with the Trident system will be solved. Regretfully, I am not nearly as confident that the problems with the LAW system will be solved. It will be extremely difficult to upgrade that system to counter the extremely impressive Soviet explosive reactive tank armour. British troops will have no hand-held weapon to deal with an oncoming tank. They will be able to deal with a tank only when it is level with them or has gone past them. That is a matter of the utmost seriousness.

What adds to the seriousness of the matter is that LAW is a relatively young weapons system. It was intended to have a future of many years as a principal infantry anti-armour weapon. We are in serious difficulties. I hope that the Ministry of Defence will come clean with the House as much as it can within the constraints of security policy and tell us what proposals it has for dealing with this serious problem.

I am unused to this 10-minute rule. I do not know how many minutes I have left.

Madam Deputy Speaker

One more minute.

Dr. Gilbert

I am delighted with my party's conversion to multilateralism. I have never flinched in my support of these matters, but that conversion must have been difficult for many of my hon. Friends. I have read the Opposition amendment, and most of it seems to be fairly harmless. A conversion agency would involve a harmless waste of not much money, so that matter will not cause me any difficulties. I agree that there should be a delay on the Lance replacement. I have some difficulty with the abandonment of the destabilising flexible response strategy. I am content with the call on Her Majesty's Government to seek to reduce—that is the key word— short-range nuclear forces.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. At that point the right hon. Gentleman must remain content.

7.15 pm
Dame Janet Fookes (Plymouth, Drake)

I wonder how many of my hon. Friends and, indeed, how many Opposition Members recall the childhood game of lucky dip, in which a bran tub contained a gift for every child. Some of the gifts were good, some were indifferent, and others were downright rubbish. When I looked through Labour's amendment tonight, I was reminded of a lucky dip. There is something for everyone, but the quality is varied in the extreme. For example, one portentous announcement is that we should examine the allocation of resources which could be released for social and economic purposes". It is lovely wrapping paper, but, when we open the present, we find that it is cuts. For a constituency such as mine and for the city of Plymouth generally, cuts of an unspecified nature could be alarming.

Mr. O'Neill

What about the cuts the Government have made?

Dame Janet Fookes

Indeed. Why make it worse?

The matter involves not only the dockyard, which was discussed earlier in the debate, but the Royal Navy, the ships and the Royal Marines who are stationed in Plymouth. Admittedly, we do not know precisely what cuts will be made, but that aspect fills me with foreboding, even if we overlook the Labour party conference figure of £5 billion and accept that that is not official Labour party policy. However, it still leaves an uneasy feeling for those of us who are concerned.

I find wholly unacceptable that part of the amendment referring to welcoming progress towards a world-wide treaty banning the possession or production of chemical and biological weapons". Several years ago I visited the forces in Germany and was absolutely appalled by the actual impact of chemical weapons or even the threat of chemical weapons being used. We were shown the kind of protective clothing that it would be necessary to wear against them. It was quite clear that it enormously reduced the effectiveness of any fighting man—or fighting woman, come to that. It was immensely tiring. There would have been a devastating impact even to threaten to use such weapons and therefore to require that clobber to be donned.

One of the most chilling aspects of the defence estimates is the section dealing with the Soviet Union's chemical weapons potential. It is instructive that, although we have discontinued an offensive capacity and the United States has not produced chemical weapons for some years, it absolutely failed to have any effect on the Soviet Union, which continued and, as far as I can judge from the document, still continues to produce chemical weapons. If ever there was an argument against unilateral disarma-ment, I think that this provides the final cornerstone. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is a lot of crap."] The hon. Gentleman calls it a lot of crap. I suggest that he does not know what he is talking about.

It is quite clear from the defence estimates that an enormous stockpile of chemical weapons is available for use in the Soviet Union, yet it was not until 1987 that President Gorbachev was prepared to admit even the existence of these horrible weapons. When we visited Soviet facilities—as they visited our facilities at Porton Down—it was a disappointment because they failed to show us half of what was clearly there. There is obviously a long way to go.

I warmly welcome and applaud every effort made towards a global ban of those weapons, but it seems that it is a difficult sphere to verify. It is not easy to disguise a tank, but as far as I can tell chemical agents of this kind, which can be produced from pretty common or garden ingredients, are more difficult to verify. I regard it as a test of the Soviet Union's intentions to consider how they are prepared to allow chemical weapons to be verified. I hope that we shall see the end of them but, until that time, we should be most careful and on our guard.

Of the utmost concern is the recruitment and retention of suitable men and women to serve in the armed forces now and in the future. It is all too clear that we are reaching a time when the supply of the right type of young man and woman will be extremely difficult due to changes in population. The armed forces will be in competition with a host of other professions and occupations, so it is vital that we ensure reasonable pay and good conditions of service.

In discussions with members of the armed services, I have found that what gets their goat is not so much their pay, because we have done so much to improve it, as niggling, pettifogging restrictions on their conditions of service.

I refer, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) yesterday, to housing. I make no apology for raising this subject again. The Armed Services Review Body has made it clear that, for the Army and the Royal Air Force, if not for the Navy, this is the No. I reason for dissatisfaction. It is essential that we deal with the issue of house purchase at the end of one's service. It is not always appropriate, for a wide variety of reasons, for a man to buy a house during his service in the RAF or the Army. It is essential for the Treasury to face this problem. It would be penny wise, pound foolish not to give service men the opportunity to put them on all fours with other people when saving for a mortgage. I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench will have very strong words to say to the Treasury, as I am sure that that is where the problem lies, not in the Ministry of Defence.

Dr. Reid

Yesterday I was on Salisbury plain with other right hon. and hon. Members to see the Territorial Army on manoeuvres. It is a matter of great irritation to many people in the TA that they give up their time and, if they are unemployed, they have their benefit docked, or if they are employed they may find that their jobs are under threat. I hope that the hon. Lady will join me and encourage the Government to review recruitment to the TA and the conditions of those who voluntarily give up their time to serve their country.

Dame Janet Fookes

I am grateful to the hon. Member for making that point. I was not aware of it, but it is a perfect example of what I call pettifogging restrictions. I hope that that will be taken on board by my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench.

The figures for premature release from the Army between 1983 and 1989 are most alarming. They have risen by no less than 140 per cent. We cannot afford to sustain that figure if we are to have the right calibre of person for a highly professional force. I fear that the same thing may happen in the other branches of the armed forces. However good and however impressive the hardware, we still rely on the calibre of our men and women. Like the right hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert), I welcome the fact that women are playing a much greater part, but, even with that development, we still have to beware of losing highly professional men and women.

7.26 pm
Mr. Ken Maginnis (Fermanagh and South Tyrone)

Having listened to more than five and a half hours of this debate, I cannot help but be impressed by hon. Members' vast knowledge of weapons systems, of finance, and of the international implications of what we are debating today.

The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) struck the loudest chord with me when he acknowledged that our greatest asset is, of course, our manpower. He spoke at. some length about recruitment and the need to retain our serving soldiers, and he said that this could best be done by trying to cater for the reasonable expectations of our service men and, most importantly, their families. I felt that he was talking about morale and the need to understand the pressures on our serving soldiers, not just because of their service, but because of their families.

There are thousands of soldiers in our standing Army, and there are about 18,000 service men who represent what I believe will come to be more and more the fighting arm of our military personnel—the peace-keeping forces in divided communities. I regret that I have only 10 minutes in which to speak about this important matter; I doubt whether any other hon. Member will refer to it this evening other than in passing. I refer to the 18,000 soldiers who are presently serving in Northern Ireland.

Three years ago, before we signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, I would have been talking about 16,000 soldiers. As a result of that agreement as much as anything else, we now have to deploy a further two battalions full-time in the Province. Those troops have to face the propaganda of the terrorists. It is constantly suggested that our security forces are operating against a community, but, as every hon. Member here understands, that is not the case. They are deployed, act and want to act exclusively against those factions from both communities who resort to terrorism.

The regiment that bears the greatest brunt of that criticism—although it does not bear it exclusively—is the Ulster Defence Regiment. I fear that some people tend to forget that it is a regiment of the British Army; but it is more than that. The existence of the UDR is a realisation of the right of any community to defend itself against a small minority that would use the Armalite to try to destroy our democracy instead of turning to the ballot box. However, I speak with some feeling and experience when I say that it is more than that. It is also a manifestation of the willingness of law-abiding people within the community to act within the law and to subject themselves, in their fight against terrorism, to the discipline that is imposed by belonging to a military regiment.

When people think of the UDR, I wish that they would think also of the men in Great Britain who serve in the Territorial Army—schoolteachers, lorry drivers, bus drivers, business men, labourers and tradesmen, because they are exactly the sort of people one finds in the Ulster Defence Regiment. One does not find, as those who oppose the regiment would have us believe, a great coming together of a bigoted mass who are interested only in opposing the other section of their community. If people would take time to examine the UDR's record, they would find that the regiment serves the entire community. Its record against Protestant or Loyalist paramilitaries is excellent. I am pleased that the Secretary of State acknowledges that point.

However, the cost to the regiment has been enormous. As well as having lost 180 men–155 while they were off duty and going about their ordinary business–467 ex-members were murdered because they had served in the regiment. However, there is something else that I must draw to the attention of the House because that is not the only price that we ask the men who have placed themselves between the law-abiding community and terrorists to pay. They pay a price 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and have done so for the past 20 years. We have placed on those men a stress which manifests itself in both unusual and understandable ways. Some of those men find difficulty in their domestic lives, yet they are forgotten. There are also those who, when the absolute extreme of their tolerance has been breached, have taken their personal protection weapon and committed suicide. Forty-three such men did that, and those men are forgotten.

I would ask those who criticise the UDR and who say that 16 of its members have been convicted of murder—there are grave doubts in four of those cases—and who talk loosely about "bad apples" to remember that there is a strong likelihood that many of those who are now deemed to be bad apples were not bad apples when they entered the regiment with the best motives, to carry out their duty to the community in which they live. Many of those men were driven beyond their level of tolerance, and that caused them to decide to take the law into their own hands.

We should balance the 16 men who are dead, allegedly at the hands of the UDR, against the UDR's 43 suicides. We must balance and consider the stresses. I should like to believe that the Secretary of State for Defence will consider a propaganda counter-campaign to counter the campaign shown on our television screens day in and day out, which denigrates those brave men and women. I have spoken at some length about this to the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, and I hope that he will be able to give me some reassurances about new thinking on that.

There may also be a need for counselling for those men who, for so long, have had to face up to the stress of IRA terrorism. I hope that the House will be tolerant with me while I briefly explore this important issue. Since the Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed—I do not pick on that for any reason except to have a cut-off date—there have been 275 murders by terrorists in Northern Ireland, of which 207, more than 75 per cent., have been carried out by the IRA; 64 have been carried out by Loyalist terrorists and four by persons unknown. If we look again at the Roman Catholic victims of those terrorists, we find that of 95—

Madam Deputy Speaker

I must call the hon. Gentleman to order. We have our Standing Orders to follow.

7.36 pm
Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside)

I am sure that the House has been impressed by what the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) has been saying about the Ulster Defence Regiment. His remarks will be taken on board by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State who, of course, with his experience of Northern Ireland, where he saw both the UDR and the British Army in the front line, is well qualified for his new position.

My speech will be of particular interest to my right hon. Friend because it concerns many of his Bridgwater constituents who work at the Westland factory, constructing helicopters. When the House last debated the Royal Air Force on 9 March, I asked several questions about helicopters in battlefield and support operations, which were far from satisfactorily answered by the Minister replying to that debate. Later, on 8 June, when the Army was debated, questions about helicopters were once again raised and again the House was denied a proper reply. Today I hope that it will be third time lucky because I shall once more raise the question of the importance of the helicopter in today's land battle.

Clearly, early decisions on helicopters are required in relation to both their support and attack roles. When, on 9 April 1987, the former Secretary of State for Defence announced that an initial batch of 25 utility EH101s would be ordered for the support role, he stated: A comprehensive review of the requirement for support helicopters in all roles well into the next century was therefore set in hand."—[Official Report, 9 April 1987; Vol. 114, c. 470.] He said that that showed the need for additional large helicopters in the central region.

His announcement that 25 EH101s were being ordered was extremely welcome, but a firm decision to go ahead with further utility EH101s is also required. I hope that the decision on that will not be deferred until late 1990, as has been suggested in some quarters. My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Clark) said that there were delays in reaching a decision on the Navy version of the EH101. That is understandable because further trials must be conducted on that aircraft. The utility version, however, needs no further trials and there is no reason why additional orders could not be placed.

I want to press this matter because there is a frightening imbalance in helicopter numbers between NATO and Warsaw pact countries. We need those helicopters much more than the Warsaw pact because of the multiplier effect of mobility on our troop numbers. On pages 46 and 47 of the defence estimates there are diagrams showing the comparative strength of helicopter forces—attack and support helicopters—in the central region and in the entire European area from the Atlantic to the Urals. According to the figures, things in the central region are fairly balanced between NATO and the Warsaw pact, but a study of the entire area shows that there is considerable imbalance. It is also important to remember that the Warsaw pact countries could call up their reserves much more quickly than we could. That is why we must bring our forces up to proper strength.

The Minister said that the Chinook update was agreed and that is welcome. That aircraft is flown by the RAF and, at present, they move troops around Europe. Come hostilities, however, the RAF would require all its Chinooks to move its own personnel and those aircraft would be unavailable to move British troops.

In the current East-West political climate, conventional arms reductions will undoubtedly be negotiated. There is a danger that the Government may use that fact as a reason for deferring decisions on all helicopters. My right hon. Friend should bear in mind the mounting pressure on the President of the United States to reduce the twin deficits of budget and balance of trade. There is a good chance that he will call upon his NATO European partners to bear more of the burden of defence in Europe. I do not believe that that is a reason for us to reduce our own conventional forces, rather we should build them up. It would be especially serious if the Americans were to pull out some of their forces because most of the helicopter operations within the European theatre now are conducted by the United States and it has by far the largest proportion of helicopters available.

We need more helicopters and there is no doubt that Westland is ready to supply them. That view is held not only by my colleagues and me, but by defence correspondents. They reported on the first performance of our revolutionary new 24 Airmobile Brigade in Exercise Key Flight in September. They identified the shortage of helicopters as a real worry. A headline in The Daily Telegraph read: Army of the air let down by copters Mark Urban, the defence correspondent of The Independent, summed up his article by stating: The lines are drawn for 24 Airmobile Brigade's most serious engagement: not against a Red tank thrust but against the armour lobby and those in the RAF who have traditionally preferred to commit their money to fast jets than to helicopters. That says it all.

It is all very well asking for new helicopters, but how many more are required? I do not believe that the MOD has yet worked out the best balance between armour, infantry, artillery and helicopters in the army. Has my right hon. Friend received the advice he is expecting on the best mix in the army and the conceptual use of helicopters on the battlefield? If he has not received that advice, what is the hold-up? If he has received it, what is the delay in ordering additional helicopters?

Hitherto I have spoken about support helicopters, but it is also important to consider attack helicopters. I remind my right hon. Friend that an urgent decision about them is also required. In the short term the Apache—a United States aircraft manufactured by McDonnell-Douglas with whom Westland has a memorandum of understanding so that it can make that aircraft jointly—is obviously the preferred solution. In the longer term there is the prospect of the PAH2—a Franco-German aircraft—for which there would almost certainly be a trade-off for Westland and the improved Agusta 129, for which Britain is already in partnership with Italy, Netherlands and Spain. The selection of the short-term option, the Apache, would provide a neat answer to the problem because the introduction of dedicated attack helicopters would have the effect of replacing the Lynxes currently used for anti-armour, which have their weapons strapped on to them. The Lynxes could then revert to the role for which they were originally designed, light utility, thus providing some of the troop lift needed for air mobility.

Decisions must be made, and I have suggested some solutions to my right hon. Friend. Although I do not necessarily expect detailed replies this evening, I hope that we shall be given an undertaking that the role of the helicopter in Army operations is being reviewed urgently.

As I have about two minutes remaining to me may I endorse what has already been said by my hon. Friends the Members for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) and for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) about house purchase problems for members of the armed forces, especially the Army and the RAF. I endorse the campaign undertaken by my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury for more assistance to Army personnel towards house purchase undertaken during their service. That is also the policy of SSAFA—the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Families Association.

7.46 pm
Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

Time is extremely short and obviously I shall try to maintain the constraints that have been imposed without in any way objecting to them. First, I should like to add my respects to the Clerk of the Select Committee, Robert Rogers.

I thought that this part of the debate dealt with procurement. I submit that we are facing a dilemma in that respect between our domestic and international philo-sophy. I shall ask the Secretary of State succinct questions about both sectors. Domestically we seem to be in a process of upheaval. I have some faith in Sir Peter Levene, but he seems to be causing great disruption throughout the procurement industry by a slavish adherence to value for money and the competition philosophy.

It goes without saying that defence manufacturers are moving out of the industry because of the way in which they have been treated. We need a new approach and we should avoid the peculiar situation in which the Treasury lays down restrictions and we cannot make advances because of them. One defence manufacturer has suggested that we undertake some project analysis. That would enable us to see in physical terms what is required by the armed forces without necessarily entering the competition stage subsequent to that. The competition should be based on who comes nearest to providing what the armed forces want and it should proceed on that basis.

Sir Peter Levene made a speech to the Independent European Programme Group that overturned the philosophy underpinning the European fighter aircraft and the Tornado programme. It seemed that we were embarking on a new policy regarding international collaboration. I do not know what that speech meant. What consultations took place with the United Kingdom domestic industry before Sir Peter made those proposals? We must have answers because we have given the impression that we think that Tornado is a great success and that we are proceeding with the EFA consortium. He seems to be rejecting these concepts as paper companies. He may be right, but before we go any further—we seem to be moving apace— we need to have a clearer indication of what is meant. Reference has been made to our backsliding on the NATO frigate for the nineties. Time does not permit me to deal with that, but what is the current status of the EFA? That is important not just to Ferranti but to other manufacturers. We need to make it clear whether the Government are proceeding with that type of set-up or whether—I hope that this is not the case —they are going to overturn it.

We have a distinct problem with the surface fleet. Certain people, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) could argue that we are against defence expenditure generally, but tend to be in favour of defence expenditure in particular instances. I am not sure whether I correctly understood much of the Minister's speech but I was appalled to gain the impression that we were not going to order type 23s this year, because that would be in direct contradiction—

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Michael Neubert)

We hope to place the order for the type 23 frigates by the end of the year.

Mr. Douglas

I am not going to say whether there are one or four, but there will certainly be between one and four, which is certainly heartening because that was not the impression given earlier in the debate. We have got into particular difficulties with regard to the surface fleet.

In the time available I want to zero in on the Trident programme. What is its status? Will it meet the in-service date of 1994? Exactly what has Anthony Attlee been up to in writing to the ranking republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee? Are we so concerned about tests that we have to twist the arms of members of the legislature in Congress? What was the text of the letter? Can we have it? Will the Government publish the text of the letter to show the nature of our concern?

I am very critical and I am obviously not a great adherer to conference decisions, but I was heartened to know that my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill), who is not here at present, can wave aside, just like that, a conference decision made by nearly two to one.

Mr. Tom King

More than two to one.

Mr. Douglas

Thank you. I welcome that intervention.

The Labour party's problem with regard to Trident presents it with a practical and moral dilemma. The practical dilemma is that if the Labour party comes to power in 1991 or 1992 the actuality will be nothing like the policy as described in the Labour party policy document. There will not be three Trident boats in a state of completion. The in-service date for the first boat is 1994 so we have the prospect of our sailing a boat to Kings Bay and asking, if the missiles are ready, "Please may we have our 16 D5 missiles?"

I suppose that my hon. Friends who are still members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament will be going over with their CND badges saying, "Can we have D5s because we need them to negotiate them away with the Soviet Union?" With the best will in the world, I do not see the American administration, whoever is in power, after having START negotiations to reduce their strategic ballistic missiles by 50 per cent., saying, "Thank you very much. We are having difficulty meeting our own targets and the missiles are scarce. We have not completed the test programme, but you, the Labour Government, can have them to negotiate away." That is not a moral but a practical issue. What would the Select Committee on Defence do when they examined this, whoever their chairperson might be?

Turning to the proposed cancellation of the fourth boat, no business man or woman in his or her senses would not go ahead with the fourth boat. If we needed only three —I do not accept that—we could say that the charge that is sunk, metaphorically and practically, is the charge which the other Government have to bear. We would say that we would take one of the boats and drag it away and then complete the fourth boat because the completion of that fourth boat will be charged to us. Any business man taking five minutes or less to analyse this would say, "Let's go ahead. If we need only three we can put one aside and use if for another project." I have explained that very briefly to try to try to brush it away in the minutes available.

Here is the Labour party trying to claim the high moral ground of politics. Here is the nation talking about the greening of politics, but one thing that has not been mentioned by Gorbachev's allies is Chernobyl. He saw what tragedy a man-made nuclear accident would cause to his own nation. That was one reason—so he said—why he wanted to try to get rid of nuclear weapons completely. I do not know what will happen in the arms negotiations, but my party, which claims the high moral ground of politics, is trying to get a mish-mash of a policy to convince the British people that they should vote for it. That strikes me as strange.

I am not necessarily a unilateralist because I think that the terms unilateralist and multilateralist are meaningless. However, if the Labour party is going to praise the reports of the Select Committee on Defence, for God's sake it should read them in relation to the Trident programme and recognise that what it says in its policy document is, in practical terms, not on. Therefore, it should reject it on practical grounds and, more pertinently, it should certainly do so on moral grounds.

7.56 pm
Mr. Timothy Wood (Stevenage)

I am delighted to have the opportunity to follow the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) and to pursue some of the points which he raised. They were raised at the Labour party conference and in the opening of this debate yesterday. One factor which struck me greatly when we began this debate yesterday afternoon is that we had one intervention after another from Opposition Members who basically argued for a massive reduction on defence spending. However, from the Opposition Front Bench, the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill), for whom I have every sympathy, spoke with a deathly hush behind him and a distinct lack of sympathy from those sitting on the Benches behind him. He argued that what many of his hon. Friends wanted was not what they were going to get. What would happen in the unfortunate event of a Labour Government being elected? I shall certainly point out to my constituents in Stevenage some of the inconsistencies within the Labour party which this debate has produced.

One of the most fascinating elements of the contribution of the hon. Member for Clackmannan to this debate is contained in today's Hansard at column 163. He argued with considerable effectiveness for the various facts which justify Britain's present level of defence spending. He pointed out that others have said that the cheapness of a conscript army could reduce costs. He said that this country's naval responsibilities were much greater than those of other European countries. Another fact which he did not mention in that part of his speech but did in another, was the battle against terrorism, which costs our defence forces a considerable amount.

In one respect, I thought that the hon. Member for Clackmannan went over the top. He said: The Government now spend more on health and education than on defence. This is reflected in, for example, the numbers directly employed by the Ministry of Defence civilian labour force. There were reductions of 21,000 in 1987 alone … The figures for employment in defence-related industries show an even more alarming fall."—[Official Report, 18 October 1989; Vol. 158, c. 163.] So Labour Front Bench spokesmen believe that, if anything, we are spending too little, yet Opposition Back Benchers remain silent, grimacing behind their backs.

I have some anxieties about procurement. Defence contractors have a significant problem when they see a steady rightward move in the schedules of many development and manufacturing projects. I hope that the Ministry of Defence realises that, if defence contractors have to lay off design, development and manufacturing teams, their costs are great and the cost-effectiveness of defence procurement is, in the end, greatly damaged. This must be taken seriously into account. It is surely to our advantage to have a greater degree of realism in our procurement plans so that defence contractors can be more confident and so that teams, when assembled, can carry technically satisfactory projects through.

I want briefly to mention Ferranti, a company with which I have much sympathy, having been first employed by it after I left university. Although the rescue of that company is a matter for it and its investors, I hope that, when asked for its advice and when appropriate, the Ministry of Defence will bear in mind the importance of maintaining the various project teams in that company. I know for a fact that fine defence project teams work there now and it would be a tragedy if some of them were broken up. The adverse effects on our defence procurement would be significant.

Lastly, I turn to disarmament negotiations. Western policies, combined with the arrival of President Gorbachev in the Soviet Union, have led to disarmament moves that we can all welcome. We all hope that the various disarmament negotiations succeed. The portents are good, but I can only agree with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and other Conservative Members that we must proceed with optimism blended with caution. It is all very well to say that the present leadership of the Soviet Union presents a much more favourable image—indeed it does. At the same time we must remember that there have been false dawns before. We thought that some liberty might be coming to Hungary in 1956 and to Czechoslovakia in 1968. A few years later we thought that some liberty was coming to Poland. Again and again fears developed within the Soviet Union and turned the clock back, and once more we were faced with a frightened menace.

I hope that these events will not be repeated in the future but it would be foolish indeed if we chose to reduce our defences without first satisfactorily negotiating the appropriate arrangements with the Soviet Union to ensure proper and mutually agreed disarmament.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith) said, we have had four years of perestroika and the Soviet people are now worse off. That means that we cannot be sure that Gorbachev, perestroika and so on will be with us in future. I desperately hope that they will, but let us be wary of assuming that they will.

We must also remember that when a category of weapon is destroyed or reduced in number the type of weapon that is removed is often the most obsolete and ineffective—the numbers may fall but the effectiveness of what is still in place may not. So even with disarmament, initially at least, we must retain our design teams to develop new and effective weapons in case they have to be manufactured. I hope that disarmament negotiations will eventually progress in such a way that the various development projects can be properly controlled and matched; until such time as they do, we must maintain the design and development work that is now going on. It would be no use if we found that, while numbers had been reduced, we had allowed the quality of our weaponry to deteriorate when others were developing theirs.

In all these matters we have the opportunity and the scope to negotiate for further disarmament, but let us not go the way of Opposition Back Benchers or of Opposition Front Benchers—either by producing a policy for disaster, or by pretending that we have a policy which can succeed but which would also be doomed.

8.6 pm

Mr. Ted Garrett (Wallsend)

I should like to thank the Minister of State for Defence Procurement for his statement on the future procurement of, and orders for, surface ships. I should like to assure him and his colleagues that Swan Hunter Group in my constituency will be bidding keenly and competitively. I should like an assurance that there will be no political interference in the placement of the orders, because on Tyneside there is always the suspicion that a certain contract once went to Scotland and another to Northern Ireland—to Harland and Wolff. I sincerely hope there will be no repetition of the events that lay behind our well-founded suspicions.

Yesterday, together with some of my parliamentary colleagues, I went to see a demonstration by the 15th infantry brigade on Salisbury plain. Hon. Members who have experienced Salisbury plain will know what it is like. The 15th is a north country brigade, recruiting from the Humber right through to the border at Berwick. The 6th battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the 7th battalion the Light Infantry at Durham and the 8th battalion the Light Infantry based at Pontefract all participated. I mention their names because in yesterday's debate the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Conway) mentioned the need to maintain the county traditions. Had we had county traditions, the 6th Royal Regiment of Fusiliers would have been the 6th Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, the 7th would have been the Durham Light Infantry, and the 8th, the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

In the course of the day's activities, some members of the all-party group expressed a tremendous ignorance of the role of the Territorial Army. The brigade that we were visiting is a mix of regulars and territorials. We asked the soldiers many and various questions and I remember asking a young officer about the strength of a particular battalion. Its full strength should have been 650 but it is about 140 short. That is not peculiar to the Territorial Army: it is also a fact of life in the regular infantry battalions. The officer also poured ridicule on the vast and expensive advertising policy directed at attracting recruits. It has always been my view that people join the forces a:3 a result of word of mouth, and that is especially true of the northern areas. If we had kept the original county titles o r the original names of the regiments we would now be able to attract more recruits.

I should like the Minister in his new role to consider restoring, even at battalion level, the traditional names of regiments. It is a long time since 1968 but it is never too late to consider such a matter. After the American civil war, the American Government numbered their regiments and abolished the state titles. They are now moving back to the names of the state regiments and that has given people in those regiments a sense of identity. Not only will a fusilier, a rifleman, a lieutenant or a brigadier have not only a sense of pride about belonging to such a regiment, but people in the area will recognise regiments if there is a county link. Even today, when the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers parades through Newcastle it is still called the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and that is because of tradition.

I pay tribute to the soldiers that we saw yesterday. They had ended a fairly arduous 14-day exercise and had gone two nights without sleep. Those of us who have done that know what it means. It certainly leads to disorientation. Those soldiers were tired and dirty. In such circumstances, morale should sink but it did not. Those young soldiers were standing up well because they had the enthusiasm and the will. I talked to six gunners on a gun from a Royal Artillery battery based in Sunderland. Four of the six were unemployed and committed to the principle of service to their country through the Territorial Army. The snag was that they were out of pocket even though they were unemployed. My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid) was with me and will confirm that. They received £15 for 24 hours' active service. If they exceed the amount of money that they receive in unemployment benefit or supplementary benefit, it is deducted.

I raised this matter three years ago, and nothing has happened to end the anomaly. Is it any wonder that when these men get the chance of a job they dare not mention to their prospective employer that they are in the Territorial Army because they might not get the job? Even if they get the job they dare not mention their TA involvement. In the top echelons of the big companies, people say that they support the principle of service to the country through the TA. Some of the top men in our multinationals have said that, but down the line the commitment is watered down to nil. Some men join the TA because they are unemployed, but when they get a job they have to sever their links with the TA in order to keep it. That is wrong and the Government should look at the financial aspects of the matter. They should give employers tax concessions for employees who volunteer for the TA, or give some additional assurance to the people who carry out this service.

The brigadier that I spoke to is the headmaster of a comprehensive school in Yorkshire and he gave three weeks of his holiday to participate in the exercise. Time is given by local authorities and by other public bodies which are exempt from my criticism. However, the private sector is not meeting its commitment. Ministers should see what effort they can make so that employers will be able to release people for this important sector of our armed forces. The total cost to the taxpayer of the Territorial Army is only 5 per cent. of the Ministry of Defence budget. We cannot say that we are not getting value for money. One of the senior men responsible for yesterday's exercise told me that he was full of admiration for the enthusiasm of soldiers of all ranks. That confirmed my view.

Last week I was in Barbados at a Commonwealth conference. We were led by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. He went to Montserrat and when he came back he praised the Royal Navy for its help on that island which was devastated by Hurricane Hugo. He also praised the Royal Engineers from Belize and other units and the Barbados Regiment for the way in which they came to the aid of people in the islands struck by that awful hurricane. The West Indies is politically stable. There should be a British initiative to put together a task force which would blend the Jamaican, the Trinidad and the Barbados regiments with units of our forces in those areas so that we can get an instant response force in cases of not only military but civil necessity.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. I must call the hon. Gentleman to order.

Mr. Garrett

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me half a minute extra.

8.17 pm
Sir Jim Spicer (Dorset, West)

It is a great privilege to follow the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett) because he has spoken about a subject that is very dear to my heart. I hope that Ministers will take note of what he has said and will take to heart the old adage, "The difficult we do at once, but the impossible may take a little longer." I suggest that in this case the Government should attempt the impossible.

I am a little naive, but I have been heartened by the attitude of speakers on the Opposition Front Bench. They have taken a positive view of affairs. Yesterday we heard an Opposition Front-Bench spokesman ruling out of court any following of the line of that wretched resolution passed at the Labour party conference. That has been reinforced today by other spokesmen who throughout the debate have called for more expenditure because, they say, we are letting the side down. That is a great step forward, and it is worth while listening to the debate and taking part in it just to hear that view being expressed.

In opening the debate yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence quite rightly laid great stress on the rapidly changing political face of both eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. These changes give us and the oppressed peoples of the Russian empire hope for a better and more balanced future. However, the changes are not yet set in concrete, and freedom may once again fall prey to oppression as it did in East Germany in 1953, in Hungary in 1956 and, sadly, in Czechoslovakia in 1968.

We all watched with horror the recent events in Peking when students and workers were massacred by troops. The fact that we saw that was very much the fault of the Chinese Government who, by mistake compounded by stupidity, allowed the Western media to occupy the hotel from which they had a full view of the whole operation from start to finish. We all expressed our horror about the events in Peking. No such coverage was available to show the brutal and savage attack by Soviet security forces on a peaceful demonstration by Soviet citizens in the town of Tiflis, in Georgia. That attack should serve as a blunt reminder to all of us that, although this is a time of hope, it is also a time of great danger, and that elements still exist within the Soviet Union that would not hesitate to move back to the worst excesses of previous times.

Of course, siren voices are always heard hard at work. trying to destroy both our armed forces and our nuclear capability on the pretext that peace has now broken out and we can look forward with great confidence to a happy future. Let me say—with great deference to them—that Labour's defence spokesmen carry little weight with many of their colleagues on this issue. Personally, I think that it must be right for the British people to demand that the Labour leader himself speaks out strongly and makes it clear that he utterly repudiates the party conference vote at Brighton, which, if ever implemented, would hamstring our armed forces.

Obviously we cannot afford to gamble on "peace in our time", but it might just be possible to use present events to influence decision-making in the Ministry of Defence. We simply cannot afford to proceed with both the total modernisation of our tank forces and the equipping of even our single air mobile brigade with the right balance and quantity of attack and support helicopters. In my view —which I believe is shared by many of my colleagues—it is high time that our defence team accepted that a force of attack helicopters is now a necessity rather than an option.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) spoke with great knowledge and sincerity about the changes that may take place in Europe. How I agree with him. Ten years from now, the map of Europe may look quite different. No one should be in any doubt that in next year's elections in the Federal Republic of Germany reunification will be at the top of the agenda for all parties: every party will be forced to put it there, even if it does not wish to, and reunification will eventually follow. Ten years on, both Hungary and Poland may well be members of the European Community. Let me say here and now that I sincerely hope that that will happen.

If all this transpires, and if force reductions also take place in West Germany, the value of fully equipped air mobile brigades for quick reinforcement of either the central front or the southern or northern flank—or for any unforeseen out-of-area operation—will be enormous. We all know about the debate now taking place within the MOD. Let me ask the entire Ministry team for a firm time limit for that debate, and that thereafter decisions be made in favour of a greatly enhanced role for helicopters.

8.22 pm
Mr. Bruce George (Walsall, South)

This debate should have taken place in June or July, but—although the Select Committee on Defence rushed in June to produce its response to the "Statement on the Defence Estimates"—we are now in October, approaching November. I suppose, however, that the Government's ineptitude has given us a good opportunity to evaluate the momentous events that have taken place, not only in the Soviet Union and the rest of eastern Europe but within our own Alliance —remarkable developments in arms control such as START and CFE, and confidence-building measures. Few of us could have predicted this a few months ago, and even fewer could have predicted the great changes that have taken place in the whole range of Labour's policies. I do not wish to advertise the opportunities that I have had to travel, but I have been to the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland, meeting members of the military and Defence Ministers, and that experience will underpin some of the points that I intend to make.

This is an era of transition. When Churchill made his famous "iron curtain" speech, Europe was divided into two major blocs. I am not entirely convinced that the position has changed. Perhaps, as some have said, it is irrevocable, but we must nevertheless take advantage of the opportunities presented to us. If we do not, we shall live to regret it, for the consequences will be severe. We should not be euphoric and assume that swords are about to be beaten into ploughshares; nor should we be churlish and hostile and say that we should not deal with the Soviet Union because within weeks or months there will be a Chinese-style conversion, and the reforms will slow down or even cease.

Is there a role for NATO in this environment? Some would say no, and I certainly believe that it will be some years before we are in a position to decide whether alliances will wither away. One thing is certain, however: as Manfred Wörner said a couple of months ago, NATO must do away with its fixation with weapons, strategy and disarmament and turn it towards the decisive questions of the political reshaping of Europe. Many tasks still await NATO's concern and action. Clearly it must maintain itself as a military alliance, but it has many political dimensions as well. Whatever happens in East-West relations, the out-of-area threat to us and to the Warsaw pact will persist. The new military challenges to both alliances are considerable. There is ballistic missile proliferation, for instance: 16 countries outside NATO and the Warsaw pact have, or are developing, such missiles, with ranges of up to 500 km. That trend is very worrying, and it is even more worrying that some of those countries are developing ballistic missiles with longer and longer ranges: they are developing the warheads themselves as well as the means of delivery.

Whatever action we take, the Alliances may face a threat from a country that is no longer simply a recipient of our weapons, given or sold. If the growth in rocket technology is allied to the increase in chemical weapons, the prospects appear horrendous. That lethal combination presents an ominous future for the West—that of longer-range ballistic missiles in the hands of some Third-world nation with a chemical weapon capability. The challenges are not just military; they are also economic—the less developed countries pose enormous problems with budget deficits and protectionism—and if economic matters are to be involved, security must take the environmental challenges into account.

Papers produced by the Western European Union or the North Atlantic Alliance appear to be lectures in environmentalism and "green" politics, but those issues cannot be confined to the debating chamber, or indeed to discussion of the environment. The environmental problems facing the globe have a security dimension: the consequences of a potential crisis for defence and foreign policy would be very severe. I therefore believe that there is clearly a continuing role for NATO.

Worrying changes have taken place within the Government, although attention has often been focused on the weaknesses of my party's defence policy. Let us look at the Order Paper. The Defence Committee reports tagged to the motion show the Government in a very bad light. The Committee consists of 11 Members of Parliament and meets only twice a week, yet, in the limited time available, we have produced a seemingly endless succession of reports exposing weaknesses in the procurement process. I make no apology for going through them briefly.

The second report is entitled "Staffing Levels in the Procurement Executive". Even the Ministry witnesses talk of `a catastrophic haemorrhaging' of the 'very ablest young engineers, scientists and administrators—. We pointed out the enormous increase in costs of procurement when resources are scarce, of ineffective decision-making and of inadequate recruiting.

The third report, entitled "The Working of the AWACS Offset Agreement", describes the benefits that have resulted so far from making the right decision—to go for Boeing, AWACS after a disastrous earlier decision. The benefits to the country of offsets are difficult to see. The report on the progress of the Trident programme describes problems at Aldermaston, industrial disputes at Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd. and problems involving the procurement of the missile in the United States. The Government do not emerge particularly well.

The Government's policy on the Royal Navy surface fleet has been disastrous. They talk about aiming at having about 50 frigates and destroyers at their disposal. This afternoon they told us how many frigates and destroyers are being built. Unless the Government build three frigates per year, they will never reach the target of about 50. The only way in which the Government can maintain a fleet approaching 50 is by running on ancient Leanders, most of which were built in the 1960s and should be destined for the scrap heap.

The seventh report relates to the decommissioning of nuclear submarines, on which the Government have no policy at all. The procurement of the Tucano trainer aircraft is another indictment. The availability of merchant shipping for defence purposes reveals yet another disaster, and even the Government themselves admit it. We said in our report that in a recent exercise 33 out of 34 vessels chartered for British exercises in 1988–89 were not British; manpower continues to fall, and, were ships to be required in time of tension or war, substantial numbers of their officers and men would not be British; cadet entry to the Merchant Navy is also a disaster.

The worst disaster of all was the procurement of a light anti-tank weapon, LAW80. The idea first emerged in 1971, development began in 1978, and in 1988 the Army had its first delivery of a weapons system that would pose an enormous threat only to a Bulgarian tank driver driving a T34, but anything else appears to be invulnerable to a weapons system that has cost hundreds of millions of pounds and so much physical and mental effort and is a duff system. Who will buy it? Only people who are threatened by tanks which do not have the reactive armour that the Soviet army has. Reactive armour was patented in Britain in 1982, so why did it take the MOD so long to realise that we did not have anti-tank weapons that would do more than dent a Soviet tank?

The reports that we have produced—and there will be more—are an indictment of the way in which the Government are procuring weapons systems with scarce resources.

My final point relates to security. During the past 12 years I have become almost obsessed with trying without success to get a licensing system for the private security industry. Now the Government refuse to do anything, relying upon self-regulation of that imperfect industry. Regrettably, at Deal, we saw those imperfections manifest. In an industry upon which the MOD is increasingly relying, the men are badly trained or not trained at all, they are badly paid, having to work 60, 70 or 80 hours a week to take home a living wage, and they are badly supervised, yet they are guarding our property and our soldiers. The Government should introduce a licensing system. Unless the Home Secretary does he will pay a price.

Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I call Mr. John Wilkinson.

8.32 pm
Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

It is a privilege finally to speak in a debate that has come so late in our parliamentary year. It has been long expected, and it has lived up to expectations. It is noteworthy that the House has listened so well to those who have spoken, including my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West (Sir J. Spicer), the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett) both of whom have "got some in", my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes), who spoke with such sincerity about the manpower problems in the services, and the great international performer himself, the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George).

Throughout the debate, we have been seeking a solution to the great conundrum. What could that great conundrum be? It could be how the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill), whose intellectual credentials improve with every speech he makes, could have put his name to such a rambling, ramshackle motion. If he can make sense of it, he is a better man than I, and he may well be, but I doubt whether the electorate will make much sense of it. Certainly that was the feeling of his hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas).

Alternatively, the great conundrum might be how the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West could ask for a defence review. Has he not been in the House long enough to realise that any Government policy or programme, and certainly one of the Ministry of Defence, is under review? There is nothing new in that. Of course the Government are quite rightly keeping everything under review, not least, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State so correctly reminded us, at a time of such uncertainty and potential danger in international affairs—a point highlighted by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, West.

One has only to recognise the depths of emotion of the crowds on the march in East Berlin and to see the banners in Leipzig and Dresden proclaiming, "Keine Gewalt", or "No force", "Für Freiheit", or "For freedom" and "Für Demokratie", or "For democracy", to realise the depths of emotion in the German people. We are obsessed with arms control, but to achieve peace we need to change the nature of the regimes that potentially threaten us. Only then will there be a chance of peace.

To return to my theme, what is the great conundrum? It is how, at a time of inflation, to produce good value for money from the limited resources that are available to us for defence. Of course, with service men's pay having to be high to keep them in the armed forces, and with the relative price effect of new equipment exceeding the cost of living, it really is a great conundrum.

Let me make two humble suggestions to my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench. First, the House must get a grip of the procurement process. As the hon. Member for Walsall. South pointed out, the way in which the procurement of defence equipment is mismanaged is a thumping disgrace. Our Select Committee tries to grapple with the problem, but only after the worst cost overrruns and the biggest delays have already occurred. It is by then ancient history. No one bats an eyelid when hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money are wasted on projects that are not up to specification, or are late. We need an appropriation function in the House, a sub-committee of the House of Commons Defence Committee specialising in procurement.

Secondly, as the hon. Member for Wallsend so eloquently pointed out, our reserve forces have immense potential, but we should not try to attract more through puerile advertisements in the national press showing muscle and grunt individuals with packs on their backs who are apparently much better men for the load they carry, nor idiotic little jokes about executives dressed up as Napoleon.

We need to resurrect unit loyalties, as my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Conway) pointed out. We should realise that the reserve forces offer great opportunities for technical instruction and self-betterment which volunteer reservists could carry into their civilian occupations. Of course there are other reserve forces than the Territorial Army. We have the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and the Royal Naval Reserve. We are an island nation, a maritime power that relies on air and sea reinforcement across the Atlantic and into continental Europe.

I beg my hon. Friends to be more imaginative. There should be flying squadrons in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and there should be more men in the Royal Naval Reserve. These are the things that we need to do. If those two small, simple suggestions alone are borne in mind, I shall be content, and perhaps the great conundrum will be a little nearer to a solution.

8.39 pm
Mr. George Galloway (Glasgow, Hillhead)

I want genuinely to welcome the Minister of State for Defence Procurement to his new position. He will certainly improve the intelligence quotient in his ministerial team, if not the dampness quotient, and will equally certainly bring some sense of humour to the deliberations of a fairly dry bunch.

I had also expected that in speaking in this first defence debate since he assumed his position to extend a welcome to the Secretary of State as well. It is true that the current Secretary of State left his last job with a large fund of good will across the political spectrum, but it must be said that his performance at the Dispatch Box yesterday and even more his Goebbels-like rant at the Tory party conference in Blackpool were utterly unworthy not only of him, but of the great office of state he holds and of this defence debate. The descent of a once fine man into a fifth-rate Joe MacCarthy is a dispiriting sight.

Yesterday and last week, the Secretary of State made two charges against the Labour party. The first is that the leadership of the Labour party, with all the democratic Socialist credentials they can muster and with all their years of democratic service in this great democratic institution, are in fact secret supporters of the IRA. It is so gigantic a lie and is now being repeated so often that it could have come from Goebbels's own shelf. It is especially hollow coming from a Government who have repeatedly—including most recently in Deal, a subject to which I shall return—left the door wide open for terrorists to walk in and blast to the heavens young service men serving this country.

My hon. Friends and I are utterly opposed to all killings connected with the political position in Ireland. Even those of us, like myself, who go much further and want to go much faster than the great majority of the Labour party towards British withdrawal from Ireland are utterly opposed to violence. It is the sight of our young soldiers being lowered into their graves in wooden boxes that confirms my view that Britain has already paid too high a price for its involvement in Ireland.

The second charge made by the Secretary of State is even more serious. It is that Labour cannot be trusted on defence and that Labour will not defend this country from any external aggressor. His charge is that we are cowards or traitors, or both. That charge, made by someone of the eminence of the Secretary of State for Defence, is a blood libel against the millions of Labour party supporters who fought in uniform, many of them giving their lives to defend this country in the last war. It is a blood libel on the millions of Labour supporters who currently support us and who will support our defence policy. It is a blood libel against the many members of the parliamentary Labour party—who are perhaps declining in numbers because of their age—who served this country well and who had as good a war as many of the new hawks among Tory Members.

When I heard the Secretary of State drawing on the. experience of appeasement in the 1930s in support of his argument that we were cowards or traitors, I could scarcely conceal and restrain my anger. The Government who left 300,000 soldiers huddling under the pier and in the sand dunes on the beaches of Dunkirk were a Conservative Government. The guilty men—Baldwin, Chamberlain, Simon, Halifax and Hoare—were all true blue Tories in the leadership of the Conservative party. It was their cowardice, incompetence and treachery which left this country on the precipice of defeat. We shall take no lectures on appeasement from Conservative Members.

It is customary in these debates for all speakers to pay tribute to the members of Her Majesty's armed forces. I want to draw attention to one small section of them. It can be seen in early-day motion 1128 on the Armilla patrol last year. Last year, I was a member of a delegation to Saudi Arabia, ably led by Lord Pym. How often one gazes across the Benches and says, "Come back Francis Pym, all is forgiven." On that visit, we were often reminded of the value of the men serving in the Armilla patrol and I became convinced of their value. The Government should consider seriously the demand in early-day motion 1128 for a medal to be struck for the service men who participated in that vital piece of work.

Mr. Ian Bruce

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Galloway

No, because I have only 10 minutes and I want to press on.

While I have the attention of the Minister of State for Defence Procurement, I want to say that many of us are worried about the precipitate withdrawal from the NFR90 project and nothing said tonight convinces me otherwise. I hope that in days to come—for there is no time now—we shall be told what will be done on the question of needing about 50 surface ships. I represent the warship building yard of Yarrow and I hope that the Minister will find time to visit the yard. I know that his colleague was recently there. I shall be interested to know whether the Government are intending to build a super frigate based on the type 23 model as a means of substituting for the NFR90.

On Ferranti and on the NER90, I hope that Ministers are aware of the real danger to British warship building of drawing offices and teams of designers breaking up and being scattered to the four winds. We would all pay the price for that.

I want to touch on the vexed question of security at Ministry of Defence establishments. My hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) said yesterday that it must not be made a subject of political capital. Of course, the people who have been making political capital out of Deal are Conservative Members. We must hold the Government fully responsible for the safety of our personnel and buildings at Ministry of Defence establishments. It came as a shock to the British public to learn that a base housing Royal Marines, a regiment serving in Northern Ireland, turned out to be guarded by largely unarmed, third-rate security firms employing people who were often short of the calibre that would have been expected.

Many people are unaware of the amazing hotch-potch of agencies and institutions that are currently guarding our Ministry of Defence establishments. Each of the three services is responsible for its own security, quite separately from each other. I find that surprising. The Ministry of Defence police are also involved in security and there are also individuals about whom no one seems to know much —the industrial patrol men. I tried today to find out more about them. There are about 16 to 30 other private security firms that range from the disreputable to the reputable. It reminds me of that great free enterpriser, the early saga of Thatcherism, Milo Minderbinder of "Catch–22", who rented his own air force to the enemy to bomb his camp in the interests of business.

8.49 pm
Mr. David Tredinnick (Bosworth)

Far from this being the least dangerous period since the war, I believe, having served in the Army some time ago, that it is the most dangerous period for Britain since the war. If the reform process in east Europe fails, we shall see a return to repression at home, aggression abroad and a highly volatile, unstable and worrying state in Europe.

I shall confine my remarks to east Europe and the Warsaw pact. As well as being the most dangerous period, this is also the period of greatest opportunity since the war. West Europe's task is to do everything possible to ensure that future historians will remember this period as a time of opportunity, hope and the achievement of peace and prosperity.

Principally, we have to two tasks for Eastern Europe. The first is to encourage the change and reforms that are taking place in many of the Warsaw pact countries. Secondly, I stress that we must do so, loosely or directly, without the super-power that controls those states, Russia, feeling threatened. If Russia is threatened, the reform process will be reversed very quickly.

The hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) spoke of his experiences travelling in eastern Europe. Two weeks ago, I returned from Poland. Solidarity MPs told me that if the West does not provide effective aid, the coalition Government will collapse not in a year's time but within three to six months and the Communists will take over. I qualify that by saying that there seems to be much determination among the Communists, Solidarity and the other minority parties to make the coalition Government work.

The new co-operation between former gaolers and prisoners has had some bizarre results. As a souvenir, a senior Solidarity official, who has twice been imprisoned for his beliefs, gave me an invitation that he had been given. It says: You are invited to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the secret police, to see an exhibition of memorials to secret police officers killed in action, to witness the award of medals and the presentation of certificates to newly graduated secret policemen. That may have a humorous side, but there is a serious point. People from opposite ends of the spectrum are trying to make a success of the new Government.

Western aid packages have already been provided, which is most welcome. I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and his junior Ministers on the know how fund that has been set up. The first fruits of the fund were seen this week when a delegation of Polish MPs from different parties attended a conference in London. I was happy to be a part of that conference this week, and such conferences should be encouraged. I recommend hon. Members to follow the course of action that I have taken and to invite those MPs to stay with them in their constituencies at the weekend. There is much for them to learn. I find that they are like sponges, because they have been kept in the dark for so many years. Almost everything that we have to tell them is of interest.

We need further specific action to help the Poles. We must encourage British businesses to accept Polish managers and business men on secondment. We should establish a scheme whereby they can easily attend British business schools. We should set up a short-term crisis fund that has loose strings. With inflation in Poland running at 1,000 per cent., and the major reforms in the economy, there is a danger of food riots. The Poles may need short-term aid to help them over that.

As an oil-producing nation, we should provide Poland at least with extra fuel. Half the garages in Poland are shut, and there is not enough fuel for cars and tractors. That has the knock-on effect of farmers being unable to get the food out of the ground. I suggest that the Government should consider that carefully.

I said that there were two tasks for the West—to encourage reform, and to do so without threatening Russia. As someone who has served in the Army, I find myself in the strange position of saying that the last thing that we want to do is to destabilise the Warsaw pact. Polish Ministers and MPs say that it is essential that the Warsaw pact is maintained. We must work progressively to reduce the numbers of arms. It would not be helpful to the process of reform if the pact were to disintegrate now.

I began by saying that this is the most dangerous period since the war. If the reform process fails and the Russian bear feels threatened, we shall return to the cold war or, perhaps the worst prospect, some form of defensive-aggressive military action.

8.56 pm
Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton)

I am sure that the House will forgive me if I begin with a number of local issues, not least the fact that less than two weeks ago Anthony and Sharon Outlaw lost three young children on the Churchill naval estate in my constituency. The fire started in the middle of the night and the three children, who were all under five, died. I ask the Minister to take note of that tragic event.

The naval families have spoken to me about that matter. It is believed that an electrical fault started the fire. There are no smoke detectors in their homes and the electrical wiring is badly in need of repair. I ask the Minister to take on board those points and be in immediate contact with the Clyde submarine base and the welfare services. It is the least I can do to pay my respects to the naval families on the estate and send the House's condolences to the family.

Concern has been expressed at the Clyde submarine base about privatisation. The base has razor wire all around it, but the local peace campers can get in and out whenever they wish. If they wish to get in for Christmas, they can. A year ago, they boarded the control room of a Polaris submarine. They were on it for so long that they had to make a noise to let officers know that they were there. The captain arrived, and when the peace campers told him to take them to Cuba he nearly had a heart attack.

At the weekend, I was told that private contractors will be used to do deep cleaning on the submarines. The Minister should look carefully at such privatisation measures, given the track record on security at the Clyde submarine base and take into consideration the feelings of the workers in that area. I hope that the Minister will contact me if he intends to introduce private contractors to the base.

Yesterday the Secretary of State said: Mr. Gorbachev and our Prime Minister also have different philosophies, but an element of confidence and trust grew".—[Official Report, 18 October 1989; Vol. 158, c. 156.] If we take that on merit, it is okay. However, paragraph 105 of the White Paper says: we should be under no illusion about this new sense of realism; it is designed to serve Soviet interests, not those of the West. The Prime Minister may talk to Mr. Gorbachev, but she makes no attempt to understand the reality of defence and foreign policy for the 1990s.

One read of the White Paper underlines the fact that the Conservative party is the party of the arms race. The motto of the White Paper is that the arms race keeps the peace. That is all the Government have to offer us. There is a paucity of thinking in the White Paper. In reality we have a need for common security'. We have heard many times from Conservative Members that NATO has given us 40 years of peace. However, we had peace from the Crimean war in the 1850s until 1914. Therefore, we had peace for a longer period in Victorian times. We have peace in NATO not because nuclear missiles are targeted at eastern Europe but because 12 or 13 countries are working together on a daily basis and understanding each other. We have peace in western Europe because of the social and personal aspects involved.

The White Paper has no credibility. There is no courage or imagination within it. My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) mentioned yesterday that that may be because the top 10 defence contractors receive more than £3 billion in profits each year from the Ministry of Defence. Perhaps that is why the Ministry of Defence has such a limited imagination.

As a member of the Select Committee on Defence, I am aware of the business appointments. A few months ago we interviewed Colin Chandler, the head of the Defence Export Services Organisation. Subsequently, he left that job on a Friday and on the following Monday became chief executive at Vickers. The Government said nothing about that. We hear comments about pork barrel politics in America, but the same comments could be made here. The Government's response to the business document from the Defence Committee says nothing on such issues. I warn the Government that we will return to that point.

I welcome the Secretary of State's comment about the centre for defence studies. it is a pity that it was not located in my constituency of Dumbarton. My constituency contains the largest nuclear arsenal in western Europe and I have to press upon the Ministry of Defence the need to answer to local politicians and to me as the Member of Parliament. The Government have located the centre in the university of London. If it is incumbent upon me to have the nuclear arsenal, surely the Government should have thought about placing it in Scotland. So far for any' academic study, we have only the Bradford school of peace studies and sadly the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Riddick) highlighted the ignorance of Tory Back Benchers on that institution.

We heard the same comments and sentiments expressed in Blackpool last week by the Prime Minister. She took credit for the world revolution and for the torch of freedom that she said is shedding a light across the iron curtain, but she did nothing to turn her mind to the changed situation in Europe. That has not changed her thinking one bit. The Prime Minister and the Government still believe that there is a cold war and that there is a threat. The Government have never said where the threat comes from.

The Warsaw pact has changed irrevocably; its ability to mount a surprise attack, which is central to the White Paper, is no more. The question is, how do we deter a crisis? It is no use just lowering the level of NATO forces. We have to change what we are doing.

The Opposition welcome the disarmament proposals. We welcome the START proposals, but if they are implemented in full, that will still only take us back to the pre-1979 levels. We welcome the conventional armed forces in Europe talks, but if their decisions are implemented in full, there will still be 40,000 tanks in Europe—twice the number that there were when Hitler marched into Poland in the 1940s. There will still be 5,700 aircraft on each side. That is the same as in 1939, but now each one can carry several nuclear weapons and go twice the speed of sound, and they are a quantum leap on the Messerschmitts and other planes used in the second world war. There are no British initiatives. Will the new Secretary of State give them to us? His predecessor did nothing in that area.

Somebody has said that the defence budget must be halved over the next six to eight years so as to direct money to social issues, crime and drugs. That was said not by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield but by the former Secretary of Defence in America, Robert McNamara. There must be initiatives in Western Europe. The Government are thurled to the USA, not because they agree with them but because they do not have an original thought about defence in their head.

McNamara led the way and General Andrew Goodpaster, the former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe between 1969 and 1974, has recommended a 50 per cent. reduction in forces in Europe. The Government have done nothing about that. The Prime Minister has said that she has lit a beacon. She is telling young people to come across from Eastern Europe, to desert their countries, and we will probably find them work. At the same time, with increasing menace, we are directing our nuclear weapons at their families left in eastern Europe—their aunts, brothers and sisters. She has not changed her policy on eastern Europe by one whit.

It would be dangerous to leave war to the generals. I had the privilege of being in the company of a United States admiral six months ago at dinner. He asked me, "How is Ireland getting on?" One of our company had to tell him that the Republic of Ireland is a country distinct from Britain, and that it became a free state in 1922. There is Uncle Sam, patrolling the world with his finger on the button, but he does not know that Ireland is separate from Britain. We cannot leave it to the generals. Despite the opportunity of this debate, the Goverment have not come forward with new ideas on how they will deal with the changing situation in Eastern Europe.

The Government have further pressures on them, such as shrinking budgets. The Government condemn the Labour party for the resolution passed in Brighton, but in the United States Congress, the new Secretary of Defence, Mr. Carlucci, has to argue for a 20 per cent. defence cut over the next five to six years, and President Bush will have to answer to Congress personally. It would be sweet if the Secretary of State were to argue for that here, but, sad to say, that will not happen.

The Select Committee on Defence has pointed to the demographic changes which mean that the Army cannot get enough recruits. Last year, despite a target of 38,000, it had only 33,000 recruits. The population betwen the ages of 16 and 19 will fall by 1 million in the next 10 years. In the Federal Republic of Germany, one of our close neighbours, unless remedial action is taken, the armed forces will fall from 500,000 to 290,000. Our Government have said nothing about how our forces will be changed, yet changes will be forced upon them.

There is a paucity of ideas on eastern Europe and co-operation. Sadly in this Government there are no thinkers—none to match the McNamaras, Senator Nunns, William Colbys or a former director of the CIA who state that NATO's first use of nuclear weapons is redundant. There are no such voices. All that Tory voices tell our European neighbours is that we shall fight our war on their land and that that is why we need short-range nuclear weapons. The Conservative party is nothing but the party of the arms race. That is all they have to offer us and that is why the White Paper should be thoroughly condemned and rejected tonight.

9.9 pm

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The speeches in reply to the debate are about to be made and when they have been concluded we shall have had almost five hours of Front Bench speeches in a two-day debate. It would help the House if you could draw to the attention of the Select Committee on Procedure the fact that in a two-day debate it is undesirable for Front Bench spokesmen to take up almost half of the debating time. As you occupy a position of importance, they may pay more heed to you than to ordinary Back Benchers who raise the issue.

My hon. Friends the Members for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) and for Clwyd, South-West (Mr. Jones) and I would have liked to contribute. I do not criticise you, Madam Deputy Speaker. You cannot create time. Front-Bench spokesmen should open the debate on the first day, take note of its thread, and close it on the second day. As some of the Front-Bench speeches were turgid, monotonous and lengthy, it would help the House if more Back Benchers could express their opinions.

Madam Deputy Speaker

I appreciate the hon. Member's point. I have been in the Chair for five or six hours during this important two-day debate and I know that many hon. Members have been disappointed.

9.11 pm
Mr. Sean Hughes (Knowsley, South)

I hope that my closing speech for the Opposition will not live up to the description by my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) who said that Front Bench speeches were turgid, or whatever.

The problem with the defence debate in recent years, both in the House and throughout the country, has been the extrordinary claim by the Conservative party that it has a monopoly of patriotism and, in all things pertaining to defence, a monopoly of competence. The claim to a monopoly of patriotism not only absurd but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway) said so eloquently, deeply insulting to the many Labour party members and supporters who have sacrificed so much over the years for their country.

That is why the Prime Minister's characteristically tasteless remark last year that the Labour party has no memory, no spine, no stomach and no guts was so deeply insulting to so many ordinary people. That is why the Tory party campaign of abuse, culminating in the infamous poster at the general election depicting Labour as the party of surrender, was equally offensive. Therefore, I am mildly amused by the outrage and anguish expressed by Conservative Members when a few doctors have a go at the Secretary of State for Health. It has been a measure of schoolroom bullies throughout the ages that while they can dish it out, they howl when they have to take it themselves.

It has also been one of the characteristics of this Government that, while they resolutely refuse to take responsibility for their actions, they consistently claim the credit for the achievements of others. I thought that the height of their impertinence had been reached when they claimed the credit for the INF treaty, but at Blackpool, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) said, the Prime Minister and the new Secretary of State for Defence seemed to claim the credit for glasnost and perestroika in the Soviet Union, the election of a non-Communist Prime Minister in Poland and the moves towards a multi-party state in Hungary. I am surprised that they have time to turn up to these debates.

The only thing that compares with the absurdity of the Tory claim to a monopoly of patriotism is its claim to a monopoly of competence. To use the words in the preface of Christopher Coker's pamphlet "Less Important than Opulence" published last year by the Right-wing think tank the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies: The Conservatives may well have concluded that the present defence debate, which still largely revolves around multilateralist-unilateralist distinction, is so congenial in electoral terms that the customary process of analysis must not be allowed to disturb it. Or, as the author put it more succinctly on page 8 of the pamphlet: on defence, as on other matters, the Conservative Party has never been noted for its systematic thinking". We have had ample evidence of that over the past two days.

The speech made by the new Secretary of State at the Blackpool conference a week ago and some of his remarks yesterday were perfect examples of this debate by abuse. Sadly he did not take the opportunity to initiate a rational discussion of the issues. We heard the same old half-truths and smear which we have come to expect. As probably the only British Member of Parliament whose entire family lives in the Republic of Ireland—with the exception of my wife and daughter—I need no lessons from the Secretary of State to affect my detestation of all things violent.

At the base of this Defence White Paper and at the base of all Government White Papers is the Government's interpretation of deterrence. From the speeches by Conservative Members in this debate and in all defence debates, we learn that deterrence is at the heart of the argument. That has involved us in the last two defence debates with the White Paper's historical—some might say unkindly, hysterical—summary.

I note with just a hint of regret that the person responsible for this unique Conservative insight into history seems to have been redeployed this year. However, that should not be taken as proof that the official absence of what the Government delightfully term historical perspective means that the Prime Minister and the rest of the Government have given up trying to change the past.

Earlier this year, in the spring edition of the International Institute of Strategic Studies papers, the then Secretary of State wrote that he was reminded of a story about Prince Metternich at the Congress of Vienna. He wrote: He was awoken by his valet— and I am talking about Prince Metternich, not the former Secretary of State— in the middle of the night to he told that the Russian ambassador had died in his sleep. Metternich commented, wonder what his motive was for doing that'. I thought at the time how appropriate it was that the British Secretary of State for Defence should don the mantle of Metternich, of whom a 19th century criticism was that his empty head remained unresponsive to the dynamic forces of history. Any of us who have witnessed the Government's response to the rapidly changing international developments and the world's awakening to a new sense of possibility would consider those words to be a fair criticism of the Government.

The Government's lack of response to the events within the Warsaw pact has been as breathtaking as the events themselves. For a Government who have consistently equated the possession of nuclear weapons with great power status, there has been no initiative or leadership commensurate with that status just the tired old slogans which have fuelled the cold war. In speech after speech, the Prime Minister has appealed for vigilance and resolve, warning everyone that it would be folly to let down our guard before the irreversibility of change in Communist Europe is proven. And then in Moscow on 23 September, she accepted that those changes are irreversible, but the belligerent slogans continue.

At the end of last year, Professor Sir Michael Howard wrote: We demanded that the Soviet Union should leave Afghanistan. He has done so. We demanded that he should scrap the SS20s and their smaller adjuncts. He did it. We demanded that such scrapping should be verified by obtrusive on-site inspection. He agreed. We demanded that troop reductions in Europe should be made assymmetrical. He agreed to that as well. We demanded that the offensive deployment and training of Soviet Forces in eastern Europe should be abandoned for an overtly defensive posture. He has made the military examine their doctrine. Since Sir Michael wrote that article, we have had Gorbachev's announcement, at the United Nations in December, of cuts in Soviet conventional forces, his announcement in Moscow in May of the withdrawal of 500 short-range nuclear weapons in Europe, and his offer in Strasbourg in July to make further cuts in their tactical missiles in Europe. To all that, the Government give the impression of resolutely refusing to take yes for an answer.

The problem really lies with the Prime Minister's understanding of the word "deterrence", and presumably the team share that misconception. She has tried to set the tone of the contemporary defence debate with her slogan that the only defence is a nuclear defence. Last year she told the Conservative women's conference that the British people recognised that our national safety cannot be guaranteed except by nuclear weapons. In December 1986, she told the hon. Member for Surrey, South-West (Mrs. Bottomley): Money spent on nuclear weapons provides far more deterrence than the same amount spent on conventional forces."—[Official Report, 16 December 1986; Vol. 107, c. 1052.] It is not surprising, therefore, to find the White Paper repeating the slogan. Paragraph 108 states that history shows that conventional weapons cannot by themselves prevent war. Only nuclear weapons can do that". History shows nothing of the sort.

Mr. Wilkinson

How was it, then, that Japan had no defence against the United States' nuclear weapons in world war 2?

Mr. Hughes

I should have thought that the examples that spring to mind of non-nuclear powers refusing to be overawed by nuclear powers include Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and, above all, Argentina.

The Prime Minister, and thereby the White Paper, are simply wrong. Nuclear deterrence works on two criteria: first, that the power or person being deterred is also a nuclear power and, secondly, that the power or person being deterred is rational enough to be deterred. The suggestion that the possession of nuclear weapons makes this country a great power, which is at the root of Tory defence policy, is nonsense. Their obsession with nuclear weapons has got the Government into the most—

Mr. Mates

It is also the official view of the Labour party.

Several hon. Members


Mr. Hughes

I will give way to the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, the hon. Member for Hampshire, East (Mr. Mates). [Interruption.] I could be unkind and recall the words of Christopher Coker about the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, but I shall not do that this evening.

Their obsession with nuclear weapons has got the Government into the most terrible muddle when we consider their attitude to flexible response and tactical nuclear weapons. At page 11, paragraph 5, of the White Paper we see what Ministers have been proclaiming for a decade. It states that flexible response—we have heard this over the past two days— is the only strategic concept that makes sense for a defensive alliance in the nuclear age. The Government act as though flexible response were in the sermon on the mount—one of the great truths that can never be amended. They talk about flexible response as though the strategy has remained consistent for 40 years.

At Question Time on 25 April this year, the Prime Minister stated: The strategy that we are discussing is the strategy of NATO, which has protected peace for 40 years."—[Official Report, 25 April 1989; Vol. 151, c. 799.] As we would expect, Defence Ministers have consistently repeated that statement at the Dispatch Box. However, the only consistent thing has been the consistency of the Prime Minister and her team in getting it wrong. The strategy of flexible response—we should always remember that it is a strategy and not some vague theory of deterrence—was enunciated in 1962–63 and eventually adopted in 1967. But, even in those four or five years, the strategy changed considerably. The strategy today—more than 20 years later—is fundamentally different from that first proposed to NATO. What was proposed as a strategy for raising the nuclear threshold has resulted in a strategy for lowering the nuclear threshold.

Mr. Ian Bruce

I am somewhat confused—I think that all Conservative Members are confused. The planners in the MOD must have welcomed the fact that the Labour party's official policy is now to maintain nuclear weapons while the Warsaw pact forces have nuclear weapons. The hon. Gentleman seems to contradict Labour party policy. Could we have a clear statement of what it is?

Mr. Hughes

If the hon. Member is confused now, I hope to demonstrate, if I have the time, how Conservative Members have been considerably confused for a number of years.

According to the author of the strategy, instead of the early massive use of nuclear weapons, it permitted a substantial raising of the nuclear threshold by planning for the critical initial response to Soviet aggression to be made by conventional forces alone. The strategy was based on the expectation that conventional capabilities could be improved sufficiently to make the use of nuclear weapons unnecessary. Even if that expectation turned out to be false, any use of nuclear weapons would be late and limited.

Because the essential element of the strategy—which the Government claim has been held consistently for between 20 and 40 years—has never been realised, there is a general acceptance of the fact that any attack by Soviet conventional forces would require the use of nuclear weapons, and some have argued that they would have to be used within a matter of hours. Frankly, I am astonished that neither the Prime Minister nor her team seem to understand that. It is the conscious and deliberate decision to go nuclear first, and to go nuclear early, that has caused the most concern, particularly because of its potential to cause an escalation to a strategic exchange.

The weakness in a first early use of tactical nuclear weapons in central Europe is manifest. Short-range weapons, by definition, because of their range and location, would be vulnerable to Soviet attack. Since NATO's plans are to use short-range weapons early, our command would be forced to choose between using them quickly or running the risk of their being overrun or destroyed.

The location of short-range weapons at a time of acute international tension could serve as an enormous incentive for the Warsaw pact to get in first. Operational utility creates further, major problems. Approximately 30 per cent. of West Germany's population and 25 per cent. of its industrial capacity lie within 60 miles of the inner German border. Land-based short-range nuclear missiles are limited to that NATO territory, and what possible credibility can there be in nuking ourselves?

I have always thought that the old adage still stood —that one cannot build a credible deterrent on an incredible action. I find it difficult to understand the effectiveness of a deterrent which, when used short-range hurts oneself and when used long-range hurts the enemy, but in an immediate, escalatory sense.

The Secretary of State said yesterday that we had to stand by the credibility of a flexible response. In that case, we have to ask, "What is the purpose behind the Government's refusal even to countenance an agreement to eliminate short-range nuclear weapons in Europe?" The White Paper states that NATO will aim for, in conjunction with the establishment of a conventional balance and the global elimination of chemical weapons, tangible and verifiable reductions in United States and Soviet land-based nuclear missile systems of shorter range, leading to equal ceilings. That is the rub. It is not an agreement to lead to the mutual elimination of weapons, but to equal ceiling.

According to the Prime Minister and the rest of the team, we need short-range nuclear weapons—or we did—because of the conventional superiority enjoyed by the Warsaw pact. To use the phrase of the hon. Member for Ruislip—Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson), there seems one way out of this conundrum—if we negotiated conventional parity, there would be no need for tactical nuclear weapons. Well, not exactly.

I asked the Secretary of State a simple question on 26 July 1988. I asked whether the Government believed that conventional parity was compatible with a flexible response. He replied: Yes, it is a very compatible aim that we should get conventional weapons on each side down to parity, while the whole question of the flexible response enables us to have a variable range of different types of major weapons".— [Official Report, 26 July 1988; Vol. 138, c. 247.] The Deputy Prime Minister, in his then role as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, was given the opportunity to clarify that position in the "On the Record" programme at the end of last year. He was asked a specific question about conventional parity and tactical nuclear possession. He replied: We shall have to address that part of the agenda when we get to that point, and not necessarily for the removal of all, but for the consideration of the question … Well, let's first of all recognise that it will take quite some time before we get to balance, if we do. Let's then recognise that, alongside conventional weapons, a key part in our defensive capability has been the nuclear capability, and I think will remain so. I think that the word that he was looking for was yes.

Since we adhere to flexible response—because there is not conventional parity, or so we have been told—the answers from the Secretary of State in July and from the former Foreign Secretary seem somewhat strange. Therefore, I sought clarification from the Minister of State for the Armed Forces on 10 January this year. He left me in no doubt. He said, in effect, "Yes, we still need flexible response, given conventional parity"—and for good measure he threw in any new weapons systems in the future.

The only explanation for this new thinking—that we keep our tactical nuclear weapons even after the Warsaw pact has got rid of its conventional superiority—was that the basis of flexible response had changed. Once again, I returned to the Secretary of State and asked him whether that had happened. He assured me that there had been no change, but that it would be a very different situation if there was conventional parity. That is very true—although it is not what he was saying seven months before, and it certainly is not what his deputy was saying four years before. It is not what he was saying the previous July and it is certainly not what his Minister of State was saying four weeks previously.

There is nothing new about this confusion on flexible response. On 14 April 1981, Secretary of State John Nott, in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier) actually stated: The idea that we have nuclear weapons to fight a war is an absurdity. That is not a part of NATO's strategy and never has been."—[Official Report, 14 April 1981; Vol. 3, c. 138.] In reply to the former hon. Member for Tottenham, Norman Atkinson, he went further, stating that a localised tactical nuclear war was absurd. That does not sound much like the "pressing the button brigade". But if the Tory Secretary of State for Defence in this Government did not know that it was part of NATO's strategy to use tactical nuclear weapons, it is no wonder there has been so much confusion on Conservative Benches.

If there has been confusion about flexible response and conventional parity, that becomes clarity itself when one asks the Government about their assessment of a short-range nuclear attack on us.

I conclude by referring to some more answers that I was given earlier this year. On 7 March I asked the Secretary of State whether the Government took seriously the threat of a short-range nuclear attack on NATO's fixed assets in Europe. He told me that we were members of the NATO Alliance. I could not disagree with that, but it was not exactly an answer to my question. I then asked the Minister of State the same question the following month and he told me that the Government took seriously the strategy of flexible response. Well I knew that as well, but it still was not the answer to my question, so, in May, I asked the Secretary of State. He told me that he took seriously all the weapons that the Warsaw pact has.

It was not until the Minister of State finally wrote to me in May of this year that he admitted that the Government take seriously the threat of a tactical nuclear attack on our assets in Germany. That begs a simple question; if that is the case, why will they not agree to the elimination of a particular weapon in which the Warsaw pact has a 16:1 advantage?

The sad reality is that there is absolutely no reason to believe that this Prime Minister, and therefore this Government, would ever agree in any circumstances, at any time, through any negotiation with any super-power, to the removal of nuclear weapons from this planet. That is why their defence policy is no such policy. It is a great power posture and it deserves to be exposed and rejected. I commend to the House the amendment in the name of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

9.35 pm
The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. Archibald Hamilton)

I welcome hack the hon. Member for Knowsley, South (Mr. Hughes), who has been ill recently. We are glad to see him here.

The Opposition started with a most amazing contribution from the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr.Rogers), who gave us a rather strange history lesson and seemed to be asking Conservative Members to support the action of Mr. Chamberlain and others in the 1930s. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway) seems to go down the same road. We were grateful that my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) was present, as he was able to put the record straight.

The hon. Members for Rhondda and for Hillhead referred to the contribution made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State at the Conservative party conference at Blackpool. It might help if I read an excerpt from a newspaper about this matter: We have regrettably too many who adopt"—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Rhondda listened it might help. We have regrettably too many who adopt an ambiguous and inherently dishonest attitude. Gerry Adams and other Sinn Féin spokespeople unapologetically proclaim support for cold-blooded murder that leaves a pathetic and all-too-often overlooked tragic multitude of widows, widowers, orphans and friends. To admit Gerry Adams and colleagues to the public halls of civilised democratic debate is increasingly and properly perceived as deeply offensive and repugnant to Christian and humanitarian standards. That quote came from the Irish News, a paper read by nationalists in Belfast.

At Blackpool my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State did not accuse all Labour Members of being supporters of Sinn Fein, but he said, "Protest all you want, Mr. Kinnock, wave as many red roses as you want, those were members of your party that did that and the country must never forget it." That meeting was organised by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), a member of the Labour party, and it would not have taken place if he had not organised it.

Mr. Rogers

I am ashamed that the Minister should peddle the same half truths as the Secretary of State for Defence.

It so happens that the Secretary of State for Defence received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition. After the awful thing that the Minister has just said, I hope that he will allow me to quote it. It said: Dear Tom … Your Party is in great difficulty and I was not surprised that in your speech you resorted to abuse and wild distortions … You have every reason to know that neither I nor my colleagues who form the great majority of the Labour Party give any quarter to Sinn Fein, whatever form it takes, and that I believe"—

Mr. Tom King

Go on.

Mr. Rogers

I will— I believe that those who applaud Gerry Adams and his associates are profoundly wrong and that I have told them so in very direct terms … You are also aware that I have no power to prevent people who have committed no known offence being in Brighton or speaking to a public meeting. Neither, in a free country, have you. In the same way, that is why the Tories invited neo-Nazis and Fascists to speak at the Conservative conference. The Secretary of State for Defence is indicting and is a smearer, a half-truther and a Goebbels.

Mr. Hamilton

No Conservative Member has invited a neo-Fascist to a Tory party conference and that man never came to the Tory party conference. Even if he had come, he is not a murderer. The fact remains that Gerry Adams is responsible for a murderous organisation and was asked by an Opposition Member—[Interruption.] I did not accuse the Labour party but certain Opposition Members, and the fact is that it was an Opposition Member and that fact cannot be avoided. [Interruption.] It would be good if we moved on to the debate.

Mr. Speaker

Let us settle down.

Mr. Cryer

Would the Minister be prepared to condemn Lord Whitelaw who, in 1973, invited the executive of the Provisional IRA to talks in this country? If it is a matter for condemnation on the one hand, surely it should be a matter for condemnation of a member of a Conservative Government.

Mr. Hamilton

My right hon. and noble Friend said that it was a mistake, and that incident canot be compared to giving a political platform to the man who runs Sinn Fein. I do not know how the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) can make the comparison.

The hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) raised the question of search and rescue services at RAF Leuchars. He asked if we would continue to monitor the new arrangements which we have made there. Of course, I will give that undertaking and we shall keep a check on it and ensure that it is working through. He also referred to the decline of the Merchant Navy—which is of concern to the House and the Ministry of Defence. The decline is not as rapid as it has been in the past, and we are keeping a careful eye on it. We do not feel that the position is dangerous at the moment, but we shall clearly have to watch for the future. He also accused the Government of having a weak commitment to arms control. I do not know how he can say that, because we are heavily involved in the process of arms control and are concerned that this should move ahead at a fast pace.

The right hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert) raised the question of recruits from ethnic communities, which has been concerning us for some time. We are worried that the percentage is low, although he and I know that we do not count the numbers of ethnic recruits in the services, although we have some form of monitoring those who come in. A consultant's report reached the Ministry of Defence in July which we are looking at. He also mentioned the UKADGE, and I can assure him that the results of an independent audit Commissioned by the Ministry of Defence are being assessed by both the Ministry of Defence and the contractor. I know that he will understand that I cannot comment any further.

My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) raised a question which I also wanted to bring up and which is pertinent. The amendment talks of a defence review, and we all know that a defence review means cutting defence expenditure. It is not necessary for the Government to cut defence expenditure. We are extremely proud of our record and of the fact that we are spending 16 per cent. more in real terms since we came to power. Most of that money has been used on extra equipment and the procurement budget. We have a proud record and the forces are benefiting no end from the extra money that we have spent.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith) suggested that next year's defence estimates should include an essay on the financial and military implications of arms control. My hon. Friend would not seriously expect me to say at this stage what the "Statement on the Defence Estimates" for 1990 will contain, but I can assure him that the Ministry of Defence is giving a great deal of thought to the implications of any arms control agreement. We shall certainly bear that in mind.

My hon. Friend the Member for Drake and the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett) mentioned the problem of members of the Territorial Army suffering by losing unemployment benefit when they are paid for their work in the TA. When TA members lose benefit it is as a result of receiving pay for training, which will usually be significantly more than the lost benefit. An exception to that would be the case of evening training attracting only a portion of a day's pay. To cover such contingencies we introduced a scheme allowing the issue of pay and the receipt of benefit on 16 such days in a year. I hope that the hon. Member for Wallsend will agree that that goes some way to dealing with the problem.

The hon. Member for Hillhead, in an early-day motion, suggested that it would be a good idea if the Ministry of Defence introduced a medal for the Armilla patrol. We announced before the summer recess that there would be a clasp to the General Service medal for the Armilla patrol that might be a good reason for not leaving early-dad motions on the Order Paper for too long.

The hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) mentioned a distressing case, and I was sorry to hear of the tragic loss in naval quarters of three small children. I shall certainly investigate whether the electric wiring was the cause of this awful disaster, and I shall come back to the hon. Gentleman.

The hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis), who is not with us now, raised the issue of the UDR and I pay tribute to the role he has played in it. I know that he is a robust supporter of all that it does. As the "Statement on the Defence Estimates" explains, the task of supporting the civil power in Northern Ireland remains the services' largest peacetime commitment. The Army provides most of the personnel, but the other services provide vital assistance. As long as it proves necessary in the fight against terrorism, the armed forces will continue to support the RUC.

The fact that troops have now been deployed on these duties for 20 years is no cause for celebration, but it is a sign of our determination to afford the citizens of Northern Ireland, as part of the United Kingdom, the highest protection that the Government can provide in the face of a murderous and futile terrorist campaign. The terrorists have yet to learn that, having been rejected at the ballot box, they can gain nothing by violence except further alienation from the community. It is vital that the Army's operations in support of the RUC be impartial and be seen to be impartial and in no way above the law. There is no place in Her Majesty's armed forces for anyone with divided loyalties. The UDR is an indispensable element of the Army's efforts in support of the RUC and it is subject to the same standards. Members of the UDR are as keen as anyone else to ensure that those standards are met and, as one would expect, are co-operating fully with the Stevens inquiry.

Further improvements are being made in the process of screening new recruits to the UDR, transferees for other Army units and in carrying out reviews as appropriate. Among these new measures is the establishment of an enhanced and dedicated screening unit. Our aim is to ensure that no one with associations with paramilitary organisations is recruited to, or serves in, the regiment.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

In view of the decision in the Appeal Court today, may I expect a considered reply to my speech on Colin Wallace yesterday about the possibility of a public inquiry into what happened in the 1970s in relation to the Kincora boys' home? Do not events in relation to the law in Ireland make it desirable to clear that up one way or the other?

Mr. Hamilton

I very much took the point of the hon. Gentleman's remarks on that yesterday and I shall write to him to answer all his points.

It is regrettable that, of the 40,000 individuals who have served with the UDR since it foundation in 1970, 17 soldiers have been convicted for murder. Twelve of the 15 murdered persons were killed because they were Roman Catholics or because they were suspected of terrorist links. Other UDR soldiers have been convicted of serious offences involving, for example, passing information to loyalist paramilitaries.

The House should he in no doubt that the Government and the UDR regard these crimes as inexcusable and abhorrent. We must not, however, allow the actions of a few to tarnish the reputation of the overwhelming majority of the UDR, who carry out their duties professionally, loyally and impartially.

We must not forget the pressures on those who serve in the regiment, a point that was made by the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Both on and off duty they are constantly under threat of murder by terrorists. Since its formation, 180 serving members and 46 former members of the regiment have been murdered by terrorists. They have also seen friends and relatives murdered by terrorists who in many cases are known to the security forces but have escaped justice due to the lack of admissible evidence that would be sufficient to secure a conviction in court. In addition, UDR soldiers can sometimes be subjected to direct pressure from extremist or paramilitary organisations which exist in the Loyalist community. In the circumstances, it is a tribute to the discipline and training of the majority of soldiers who have served in the UDR that they have acted with restraint and resisted the enormous pressures upon them.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said yesterday that we must not make the mistake of throwing away the barrel of good apples because a few are bad. The UDR is determined to ensure that the highest possible standards are maintained. One would expect nothing less from a regiment which formed an integral part of the Army. The improvements to the screening process that I mentioned earlier should be seen in that context. Now, as much as at any time in the past 20 years, the service men in Northern Ireland deserve our praise for their professionalism and bravery in a most difficult and often thankless job.

I shall now turn to the question of security. I thank the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) for not making party political points on the problems of security. We take security very seriously. We know the terrible price that is paid when our guard slips. It is no mere figure of speech to say that our security is kept under constant review. It is the truth, and it is appropriate to remind the House of the very sad news that another Royal Marine musician, Bandsman Christopher Nolan, who was aged 21, died on Tuesday evening from injuries sustained during the bombing at Deal on 23 September. I know that the House will join me in sending our deepest condolences to his friends and family.

Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)

I have it for a fact that, in the very week that the Deal bombing took place, in at least three units in West Germany the wives of serving personnel were actively and positively canvassed with a view to their engagement as security guards on the gates. Can the Minister tell the House on whose authority those surveys were conducted and whether any countermanding orders have been issued since the Deal event?

Mr. Hamilton

I have never understood the attitude of the Opposition to the question of security. A massive outrage was prevented in West Germany by a German civilian, an unarmed boilerman who surprised the IRA and was hit over the head for his pains. He stopped a major outrage. In terms of security, we need people who are observant and who notice what is going on and report it to the authorities. I see no reason whatever for women not having a role to play. The Labour party believes in equal opportunities, and it is a great slur on women for the Opposition to say that women should play no role whatever.

We introduced a programme of physical security measures over and above those already planned or in hand. The House will gain an idea of the scale of the programme when I say that about £40 million has been allocated in 1989–90. We expect this increased programme to continue on that scale for as long as necessary.

I shall now deal with the talks that have been going on in Madrid about the Falklands. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will make an announcement in due course, but I know that the House expects me to say something about the Anglo-Argentine talks which concluded today in Madrid. The talks were held in a very constructive atmosphere and the Government regard the outcome as most positive. It would be inappropriate for me to comment in detail on the wider aspects of the talks beyond saying that agreement was reached on a formula on sovereignty which respects the position of both sides and that good progress was made in a number of areas in support of the wish of both Governments to normalise relations between the two countries.

I must say something about defence issues. First, I welcome the confirmation of the commitment of both countries to respect the obligation to settle disputes exclusively by peaceful means, and to refrain from the threat or use of force. Secondly, I am very pleased that both Governments now regard all hostilities between our countries as having ceased. Thirdly, I welcome the agreement to establish a working group to consider views and proposals from both countries, intended to build confidence and to avoid military incidents.

To demonstrate our own commitment to the aim of strengthening mutual confidence, the United Kingdom Government have announced that they intend to dispense with the current requirement of prior agreement for Argentine merchant shipping to enter the Falkland Islands protection zone, and to align the limits of the zone with those of the fishery conservation zone. Both changes will come into effect at an early date, and we shall at the same time be extending the territorial sea around the Falklands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands from three to 12 nautical miles, in line with current Argentine and United Kingdom practice.

I must make it absolutely clear that the changes do not involve any reduction in our commitment or ability to defend the Falklands, if that were ever necessary. The protection zone remains in force, and Argentine warships and aircraft will continue to be excluded.

The alignment of the protection and conservation zones is a sensible, practical measure which will permit more effective fishery conservation. Although it will involve a minor reduction in the size of one portion of the protection zone, that is of no military significance. I hope that the House will join me in welcoming today's news from Madrid and congratulating President Menem's Government on the constructive attitude to negotiations.

The House has heard much over the past two days about how the Government have maintained and are improving the country's defence. We are now constantly searching for better value for money, and trying to upgrade the quality of our equipment and trained service men. The Government have worked in the mainstream of NATO to enhance the role that we are playing in the common defence of the West, and I am proud that our NATO allies recognise the great contribution that we are making.

By contrast, the policies agreed by the Opposition at Brighton will undermine the whole basis of NATO defence strategy—a strategy that has always recognised the need for both nuclear and conventional defence. At Brighton, Labour made an enormous fuss about its change of defence policy, but there was no change. There was a change of wording, from "unilateral" to "multilateral", but, as Labour's version of multilateral disarmament contains a commitment to negotiate away our nuclear weapons as soon as possible, the result will be the same: Britain's nuclear weapons will all go, and the Soviets will be left with thousands. I cannot understand why the right hon. Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn) gets so agitated; unilateralism is still alive and well in the Labour party, although it now goes under a new name.

During this debate we have heard from the Opposition the constantly recurring theme that our problems are now over—that there has been a permanent change in the Soviet Union. How can they say that? The stated intentions of the Soviet Union may have changed, but its awesome capabilities remain. Even after the promised cuts in troops and equipment, Warsaw pact forces will still heavily outnumber those of NATO. Despite the talk of reduced tension, Soviet production of modern, improved tanks, aircraft, ships and submarines has continued apace.

The Opposition have talked as though conventional arms negotiation and control had been not only signed up but implemented. We may achieve agreement next year, but how long will it take the Warsaw pact to destroy more than 30,000 tanks? Not until it has done that will it come down to the present NATO levels. Meanwhile, where is the Soviet Union going? Perestroika has been much discussed, but there is not much evidence that it is working, and the effect of glasnost is that all the republics in the Soviet Union are now reasserting their nationalism, and centrifugal forces are under way.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Mr. Tredinnick) said, we could now be facing a very dangerous period in East-West relations. All that is guaranteed is continued uncertainty about where the Soviet Union is heading; yet, against that background of uncertainty, the Labour party advocates disarmament and recommends that our nuclear weapons should be negotiated away at the earliest possible moment, and that the proven policy of flexible response be abandoned—although that policy has served us so well. The Labour party still cannot be trusted with the defence of this country. It is prepared to see us nuclear naked. What might that mean if Libya were ever to end up with nuclear weapons?

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 186, Noes 319.

Division No. 330] [10 pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Cryer, Bob
Allen, Graham Cummings, John
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dalyell, Tam
Armstrong, Hilary Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)
Ashton, Joe Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Dewar, Donald
Barron, Kevin Dixon, Don
Battle, John Dobson, Frank
Beckett, Margaret Doran, Frank
Bell, Stuart Douglas, Dick
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Dunnachie, Jimmy
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Bermingham, Gerald Eadie, Alexander
Bidwell, Sydney Evans, John (St Helens N)
Blair, Tony Fatchett, Derek
Boateng, Paul Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Boyes, Roland Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Fisher, Mark
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Flannery, Martin
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Flynn, Paul
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Buckley, George J. Foster, Derek
Caborn, Richard Foulkes, George
Callaghan, Jim Fraser, John
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley) Fyfe, Maria
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Galloway, George
Canavan, Dennis Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) George, Bruce
Clay, Bob Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Clelland, David Godman, Dr Norman A.
Clwyd. Mrs Ann Golding, Mrs Llin
Cohen, Harry Gordon, Mildred
Coleman, Donald Gould, Bryan
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Corbett, Robin Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Corbyn, Jeremy Grocott, Bruce
Crowther, Stan Hardy, Peter
Harman, Ms Harriet Murphy, Paul
Heffer, Eric S. Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Henderson, Doug O'Brien, William
Hinchliffe, David O'Neill, Martin
Hoey, Ms Kate (Vauxhall) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Parry, Robert
Home Robertson, John Pendry, Tom
Hood, Jimmy Pike, Peter L.
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd) Prescott, John
Hoyle, Doug Primarolo, Dawn
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Quin, Ms Joyce
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Randall, Stuart
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) Redmond, Martin
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S) Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Illsley, Eric Reid, Dr John
Ingram, Adam Richardson, Jo
Janner, Greville Robertson, George
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Robinson, Geoffrey
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Rogers, Allan
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lambie, David Rowlands, Ted
Lamond, James Sheerman, Barry
Leadbitter, Ted Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Leighton, Ron Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Skinner, Dennis
Lewis, Terry Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Livingstone, Ken Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Loyden, Eddie Snape, Peter
McAllion, John Soley, Clive
McAvoy, Thomas Spearing, Nigel
McCartney, Ian Steinberg, Gerry
McFall, John Strang, Gavin
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Straw, Jack
McKelvey, William Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
McLeish, Henry Turner, Dennis
McNamara, Kevin Vaz, Keith
McWilliam, John Wall, Pat
Madden, Max Walley, Joan
Mahon, Mrs Alice Warden, Gareth (Gower)
Marek, Dr John Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Maxton, John Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Meacher, Michael Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Meale, Alan Wilson, Brian
Michael, Alun Winnick, David
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Worthington, Tony
Moonie, Dr Lewis Wray, Jimmy
Morgan, Rhodri Young, David (Bolton SE)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Tellers for the Ayes:
Mowlam, Marjorie Mr. Frank Haynes and
Mullin, Chris Mr. Ken Eastham.
Adley, Robert Body, Sir Richard
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Allason, Rupert Boscawen, Hon Robert
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Boswell, Tim
Amess, David Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Amos, Alan Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Arbuthnot, James Bowis, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard
Ashby, David Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Brazier, Julian
Aspinwall, Jack Bright, Graham
Atkins, Robert Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Atkinson, David Browne, John (Winchester)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)
Baldry, Tony Buck, Sir Antony
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Burns, Simon
Batiste, Spencer Butler, Chris
Beith, A. J. Butterfill, John
Bellingham, Henry Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Bendall, Vivian Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)
Bevan, David Gilroy Carlisle, John, (Luton N)
Blackburn, Dr John G. Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Carrington, Matthew Hayward, Robert
Carttiss, Michael Heathcoat-Amory, David
Cartwright, John Heddle, John
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Chapman, Sydney Hill, James
Chope, Christopher Hind, Kenneth
Churchill, Mr Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Hordern, Sir Peter
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Howard, Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Colvin, Michael Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Conway, Derek Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Cope, Rt Hon John Howells, Geraint
Cormack, Patrick Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Couchman, James Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Cran, James Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hunter, Andrew
Curry, David Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Irvine, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Irving, Charles
Day, Stephen Jack, Michael
Devlin, Tim Janman, Tim
Dicks, Terry Jessel, Toby
Dorrell, Stephen Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dover, Den Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Dunn, Bob Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dykes, Hugh Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Eggar, Tim Kennedy, Charles
Emery, Sir Peter Key, Robert
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Kilfedder, James
Evennett, David King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Fallon, Michael King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Favell, Tony Kirkhope, Timothy
Fearn, Ronald Knapman, Roger
Fenner, Dame Peggy Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Knox, David
Fishburn, John Dudley Latham, Michael
Fookes, Dame Janet Lawrence, Ivan
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lee, John (Pendle)
Forth, Eric Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fox, Sir Marcus Lightbown, David
Franks, Cecil Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Freeman, Roger Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
French, Douglas Lord, Michael
Gale, Roger Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Gardiner, George Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Garel-Jones, Tristan Maclean, David
Gill, Christopher McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Glyn, Dr Alan Madel, David
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Maginnis, Ken
Gorst, John Malins, Humfrey
Gow, Ian Mans, Keith
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Maples, John
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Marland, Paul
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Marlow, Tony
Gregory, Conal Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Grist, Ian Mates, Michael
Ground, Patrick Maude, Hon Francis
Grylls, Michael Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Hague, William Mellor, David
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hampson, Dr Keith Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'I & Bute)
Hanley, Jeremy Miller, Sir Hal
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'Il Gr') Mills, Iain
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Miscampbell, Norman
Harris, David Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Haselhurst, Alan Mitchell, Sir David
Hawkins, Christopher Moate, Roger
Hayes, Jerry Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney Monro, Sir Hector
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Soames, Hon Nicholas
Moore, Rt Hon John Speller, Tony
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Morrison, Sir Charles Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Squire, Robin
Moss, Malcolm Stanbrook, Ivor
Moynihan, Hon Colin Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Mudd, David Stern, Michael
Neale, Gerrard Stevens, Lewis
Needham, Richard Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Nelson, Anthony Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Neubert, Michael Stokes, Sir John
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Nicholls, Patrick Sumberg, David
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Summerson, Hugo
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Norris, Steve Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Oppenheim, Phillip Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Page, Richard Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Paice, James Temple-Morris, Peter
Patnick, Irvine Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Pawsey, James Thorne, Neil
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Thurnham, Peter
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Porter, David (Waveney) Tracey, Richard
Portillo, Michael Tredinnick, David
Powell, William (Corby) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Price, Sir David Viggers, Peter
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Waddington, Rt Hon David
Redwood, John Waldegrave, Hon William
Renton, Tim Walden, George
Rhodes James, Robert Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Riddick, Graham Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Wallace, James
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Waller, Gary
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Walters, Sir Dennis
Roe, Mrs Marion Ward, John
Ross, William (Londonderry E) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Rossi, Sir Hugh Warren, Kenneth
Rost, Peter Wells, Bowen
Rowe, Andrew Wheeler, John
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Widdecombe, Ann
Sackville, Hon Tom Wilkinson, John
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Wilshire, David
Sayeed, Jonathan Winterton, Mrs Ann
Shaw, David (Dover) Winterton, Nicholas
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Wolfson, Mark
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wood, Timothy
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Yeo, Tim
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Shersby, Michael
Sims, Roger Tellers for the Noes:
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Mr. Alastair Goodlad and
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S) Mr. Tony Durant.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 313, Noes 34.

Division No. 331] [10.14 pm
Adley, Robert Baldry, Tony
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)
Allason, Rupert Batiste, Spencer
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Beith, A. J.
Amess, David Bellingham, Henry
Amos, Alan Bendall, Vivian
Arbuthnot, James Bevan, David Gilroy
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Blackburn, Dr John G.
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Ashby, David Boscawen, Hon Robert
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Boswell, Tim
Aspinwall, Jack Bottomley, Mrs Virginia
Atkinson, David Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bowis, John
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Grist, Ian
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Ground, Patrick
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Grylls, Michael
Brazier, Julian Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Bright, Graham Hague, William
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Browne, John (Winchester) Hampson, Dr Keith
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hanley, Jeremy
Buck, Sir Antony Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'Il Gr')
Burns, Simon Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Butler, Chris Harris, David
Butterfill, John Haselhurst, Alan
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Hawkins, Christopher
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Hayes, Jerry
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hayward, Robert
Carrington, Matthew Heathcoat-Amory, David
Carttiss, Michael Heddle, John
Cartwright, John Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hill, James
Chapman, Sydney Hind, Kenneth
Chope, Christopher Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Churchill, Mr Hordern, Sir Peter
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n) Howard, Michael
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Colvin, Michael Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Conway, Derek Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howells, Geraint
Cope, Rt Hon John Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Cormack, Patrick Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Couchman, James Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Cran, James Hunter, Andrew
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Curry, David Irvine, Michael
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Jack, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry) Janman, Tim
Day, Stephen Jessel, Toby
Devlin, Tim Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dicks, Terry Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dorrell, Stephen Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Dover, Den Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Dunn, Bob Kennedy, Charles
Dykes, Hugh Key, Robert
Eggar, Tim Kilfedder, James
Emery, Sir Peter King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Evennett, David Kirkhope, Timothy
Fallon, Michael Knapman, Roger
Favell, Tony Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Fearn, Ronald Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Knox, David
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Latham, Michael
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lawrence, Ivan
Fishburn, John Dudley Lee, John (Pendle)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Forth, Eric Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lightbown, David
Fox, Sir Marcus Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Franks, Cecil Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Freeman, Roger Lord, Michael
French, Douglas Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Gale, Roger Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Gardiner, George Maclean, David
Garel-Jones, Tristan McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Gill, Christopher McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Madel, David
Glyn, Dr Alan Maginnis, Ken
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Malins, Humfrey
Gorst, John Mans, Keith
Gow, Ian Maples, John
Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW) Marland, Paul
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Marlow, Tony
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Gregory, Conal Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Griffiths, Sir Eldon (Bury St E') Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Mates, Michael
Maude, Hon Francis Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Roe, Mrs Marion
Mellor, David Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Rossi, Sir Hugh
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'I & Bute) Rost, Peter
Miller, Sir Hal Rowe, Andrew
Mills, Iain Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Miscampbell, Norman Sackville, Hon Tom
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Mitchell, Sir David Sayeed, Jonathan
Moate, Roger Shaw, David (Dover)
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Monro, Sir Hector Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Moore, Rt Hon John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Morrison, Sir Charles Shersby, Michael
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Sims, Roger
Moss, Malcolm Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Mudd, David Soames, Hon Nicholas
Neale, Gerrard Speller, Tony
Needham, Richard Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Nelson, Anthony Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Neubert, Michael Squire, Robin
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Stanbrook, Ivor
Nicholls, Patrick Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Stern, Michael
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Stevens, Lewis
Norris, Steve Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Stewart, Rt Hon Ian (Herts N)
Oppenheim, Phillip Stokes, Sir John
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Page, Richard Sumberg, David
Paice, James Summerson, Hugo
Patnick, Irvine Tapsell, Sir Peter
Pattie, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Pawsey, James Taylor, Rt Hon J. D. (S'ford)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Porter, David (Waveney) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Portillo, Michael Temple-Morris, Peter
Powell, William (Corby) Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Price, Sir David Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Thorne, Neil
Redwood, John Thurnham, Peter
Renton, Tim Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Rhodes James, Robert Tracey, Richard
Riddick, Graham Tredinnick, David
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard Widdecombe, Ann
Viggers, Peter Wilkinson, John
Waddington, Rt Hon David Wilshire, David
Waldegrave, Hon William Winterton, Mrs Ann
Walden, George Winterton, Nicholas
Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N) Wolfson, Mark
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Wood, Timothy
Wallace, James Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Waller, Gary Yeo, Tim
Ward, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Warren, Kenneth Tellers for the Ayes:
Wells, Bowen Mr. Alastair Goodlad and
Wheeler, John Mr. Tony Durant.
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Lamond, James
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Loyden, Eddie
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Madden, Max
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Canavan, Dennis Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Clay, Bob Mullin, Chris
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Nellist, Dave
Cohen, Harry Parry, Robert
Cryer, Bob Primarolo, Dawn
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Salmond, Alex
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Sillars, Jim
Flannery, Martin Skinner, Dennis
Gordon, Mildred Thomas, Dr Dafydd Elis
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham) Wall, Pat
Heffer, Eric S. Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hinchliffe, David
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Tellers for the Noes:
Jones, leuan (Ynys Môn) Mr. Ken Livingstone and
Lambie, David Mr. Jeremy Corbyn.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989 contained in Cm. 675.