HC Deb 30 October 1990 vol 178 cc862-3
11. Ms. Ruddock

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the defence implications for the United Kingdom of the forthcoming completion of the CFE talks.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

The consequent improvements to European security and stability will be of substantial benefit to the United Kingdom.

Ms. Ruddock

May I press the Minister to be more specific about Britain's contribution to the CFE treaty? Further to the various answers given today, will he make it clear whether the cuts that he proposes will be greater or less than those outlined in "Options for Change"? Specifically, will stage 2 include dual-capable aircraft, which the Government resisted at stage 1 but some of which will be cut in "Options for Change"?

Mr. Hamilton

We obviously took into account the agreements in CFE when we worked out "Options for Change". As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made clear, many of the reductions that we anticipate have to be tied in with reductions under the CFE agreement. That agreement has not yet been signed, although we hope that it will be before the end of the year.

Mr. Wilkinson

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that in any agreement that may be signed it is important to ensure that if the numbers in the front line of key equipments are reduced their capability must be enhanced? Above all, will my hon. Friend ensure that the United Kingdom modernises its helicopter force, as the helicopter is a versatile instrument which can be rapidly deployed to the Gulf or elsewhere and is important for the future?

Mr. Hamilton

I very much take my hon. Friend's point on that. There is, of course, no evidence that the Soviet Union is reducing its technological capability in this area, and so long as it continues to bring in improvements to its defence equipment, it is essential that we do the same.

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