HC Deb 30 April 1991 vol 190 c162
13. Mr. Trotter

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the extent to which the future procurement of equipment for the armed forces will be affected by the experience of the Gulf war.

Mr. Alan Clark

We are considering the outcome of the campaign and the conclusions to be drawn from it in this as in other areas.

Mr. Trotter

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, whatever the detailed lessons to be learnt from the Gulf campaign may be, there can be no doubt that we still need tanks for the British Army? Does he agree also that there is no reason why we should not proceed with placing a new order and that that order should be for the successful Challenger?

Mr. Clark

I agree with the general lesson that my hon. Friend has drawn. As I have said, we are considering all the elements that we need to consider in coming to a decision on the winner of the competition, and I hope that the decision will not be delayed too long.

Mr. Nellist

Should not one of the lessons of the Gulf war—about the availability of equipment—be absorbed not only within the right hon. Gentleman's Department but commercially? For example, the Birmingham arms fair will open two weeks from today. What is the difference between General Pinochet and Saddam Hussein? Why is the Department laying out the red-carpet treatment for the Butcher of Santiago to come to this country, go to Royal Ordnance plc, go to British Aerospace, and, in two weeks today, go to Birmingham? Has the Department learnt nothing at all from the Gulf?

Mr. Clark

Neither General Pinochet nor Saddam Hussein has ever been, or ever will be, an official guest of the British Government.