HC Deb 15 October 1991 vol 196 cc171-256

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on amendment to Question [14 October]

That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1991 contained in Cm 1559.—[Mr. Torn King.]

Which amendment was: to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question arid to add instead thereof:

`welcomes the continuing improvement in East-West relations and the development of NATO and the CSCE to accommodate these changes; recognises the opportunities now available for further reductions in defence expenditure; calls for the maximum co-operation with the United Kingdom's European partners to re-examine the roles and commitments of the armed forces; welcomes the successful negotiation of the START Treaty; calls on the Government to seek the establishment of further talks on strategic nuclear disarmament and then to secure British participation in such discussions; and urges the Government to provide assistance for defence industry diversification and expand the provision for re-training and re-housing ex-service personnel'. [Mr. O'Neill.]

Question again proposed That the amendment be made.

Mr. Speaker

I hope that I may be able to call more hon. Members in this important debate. No fewer than 44 hon. Members have written in and hope to be called today. I therefore propose to put a 10-minute limit on speeches between 6 and 8 o'clock. I hope that those who are called before and after that time will bear the limit in mind.

4.32 pm
Mr. John Browne (Winchester)

) On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Last night you witnessed about 500,000 signatures being presented to the House before the Adjournment debate. They reflect just the tip of the iceberg and the very deep feeling that the Government have got the defence cuts wrong.

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is a matter of argument; it is not a matter of order.

Mr. Browne


Mr. Speaker

I know what the hon. Member is seeking to do. I called the hon. Member in the debate in July. I say to him and to the other hon. Members who were called in that debate in July, which was on the same subject, that I cannot, in all fairness to their colleagues, call them again today.

Mr. Browne

That was not my point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understand that and I accept that, although I have tabled an amendment, I will not be called. I accept that. The amendment that you have chosen comes from a position of less integrated defence, whereas the great feeling in this country is that there should be sufficient defence to be sure that we do not have a return to the high-risk defence policy of the 1930s. Would you please reconsider your decision to accept other amendments which demand less high-risk defence than the Government are offering?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has been here quite a long time now. He should know that my hands are tied. I can select only one amendment other than in a debate on the Queen's Speech and this is not the Queen's Speech.

Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You have just said that you have received 44 requests to take part in the debate. [Interruption.] I have perhaps ruined my chances, but is it possible to bring forward to 5 o'clock the time at which speeches can take just 10 minutes?

Mr. Speaker

That can be done only informally. I hope that the Front-Bench spokesmen—I do not know whether they can keep to 10 minutes—will be brief and that other hon. Members will bear that limit in mind.

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

Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to the changes in the international political and military climate since we last debated this subject. But against the theme of ever more harmonious relations between east and west, there remains the risk of destabilising conflict in the third world—and closer to home. We have taken careful account of this in reaching decisions on restructuring our armed forces and I should like to address some of the implications of these decisions for the equipment programme. I shall also respond to some of the points that were raised last night about the size and shape of the Army and shall also refer to the important subject of defence research and development in the future.

First, the United States and Soviet statements that they are prepared to reduce their nuclear arsenals—welcome though they are—do not affect our own intention to maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent as the cornerstone of our defence. But as the immediate threat of nuclear confrontation recedes, public attention in the western democracies has increasingly and quite rightly begun to look on the safety and security of the weapons. Last year a major review of nuclear weapon safety in the United States was carried out by Dr. Sidney Drell. In the United Kingdom, we have every reason to be confident that our stringent safety standards, exhaustive trials, and con-tinuous review and independent scrutiny ensure the safety of our weapons. Indeed, Dr. Drell recommended certain of our arrangements as a model for the United States to follow. But I have nevertheless invited the Department's chief scientific adviser to lead a small working group to examine the safety of United Kingdom nuclear weapons. The group includes a number of distinguished experts drawn from both inside and outside government. They have already started work and have been asked to report by the end of the year. Although their report will, inevitably, be classified, we shall make public a statement of its conclusions.

In the field of conventional naval equipment, we intend to maintain the Royal Navy's lead in anti-submarine warfare capability. We have announced the award of the prime contract for Merlin, the anti-submarine warfare variant of the EH101, which will replace the Navy's Sea King helicopters. Three of the new Duke class type 23s are already in service. Seven more are currently on order. Invitations to tender for up to three more type 23s were announced by my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Carlisle) in June, and a further announcement on this will be made in the spring.

The three aircraft carriers will be retained. Their Sea Harriers and Sea Dart missiles provide a powerful air defence to complement the ASW capability provided by their helicopters. We have begun studies into an anti-air warfare frigate to replace the type 42 destroyers.

Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Bristol, East)

I thank my right hon. Friend for giving way and will be brief. Is he now satisfied that the command and control system for the type 23 frigate will fully integrate all the weapons systems for that ship, or are there still worries on that score?

Mr. Clark

It is absolutely essential that the integration is complete and, because they are inseparable systems, that it applies to the Merlin EH101 helicopter. As my hon. Friend knows, the whole point of the contract negotiations to establish a prime contractor for the Merlin project was that the prime contractor should be completely responsible for the integration and effectiveness of the system. I am satisfied that he is bound to that by the contract.

Dr. Godman

With regard to the contract or contracts for the three type 23 frigates which I believe that the Minister said would be announced in the spring, may I point out that it would make very good sense for those vessel orders to be given to Yarrow on the upper Clyde? That shipyard employs hundreds of my constituents and is in dire straits.

Mr. Clark

I am a little reluctant to give way, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because so many hon. Members wish to speak. It is unfair of hon. Members to make interventions such as that, which simply made a constituency plug, instead of making a positive contribution to the scale and nature of the debate.

The House will recall that we envisage a submarine fleet of about 16 boats, about three quarters of which will be nuclear powered. We are evaluating designs for a new class of nuclear-powered submarines—based on the Trafalgar but incorporating the latest enhancements in combat systems. The last of the current Trafalgar boats, HMS Triumph, is due to enter service this year. A new class of conventional submarines, the Upholder, is also being introduced to replace the Oberon class. The first, HMS Upholder, is already in service, to be joined soon by HMS Unseen; two further vessels are under construction.

As the Army reduces in size over the coming years, we will be phasing out older equipment wherever possible, and introducing a higher proportion of newer and more capable systems.

In June, I announced that our two remaining regiments of aging Chieftain tanks will be re-equipped with Challenger 2. The Challenger Is will be the subject of an extensive upgrade, including the fitting of a new, more powerful gun. Within four years every armoured infantry battalion will be equipped with the Warrior fighting vehicle which proved so capable in the Gulf. We will be providing three artillery regiments with the multiple launch rocket system and all other front-line self-propelled artillery units will be given the AS90 155mm howitzer which will provide a 30 per cent. improvement in range.

Short-range air defence will be enhanced by the introduction of the Starstreak high-velocity missile. Starstreak's laser guidance system should make it almost invulnerable to counter-measures. In addition, the new Rapier field standard C will provide the capability to engage multiple targets simultaneously. Both of these systems are nearing the end of development.

The Army's anti-tank capability will be further enhanced towards the end of the decade when we plan to introduce a dedicated attack helicopter to replace Lynx in the anti-armour role.

Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside)

I appreciate that the Ministry of Defence has been thinking for the past 10 years about a dedicated attack helicopter. The Lynx is doing its stuff, but it is a soft-skinned utility vehicle with strap-on Missiles, so if it had come up against heavy fire in the Gulf it might not have performed as successfully as it did. Would my right hon. Friend consider buying an off-the-shelf helicopter such as the Apache from McDonnell Douglas as one of the options? Otherwise, how are we to fulfil our commitment to the new NATO rapid reaction corps, which Britain is meant to lead, without proper attack helicopters?

Mr. Clark

Yes, my hon. Friend is perfectly right. We expect to invite tenders for that requirement in the spring. I know what my hon. Friend means by off-the-shelf, but it would be perfectly proper to include, and I should like to see as part of the tender, suggestions for offset and for British industry to participate. I am sure that on reflection my hon. Friend would share that view with his constituency interests.

The importance of support and logistic vehicles is another lesson learnt—or I should say re-learnt—in the Gulf. The DROPS load-carrying and transport system was available in time to deploy the first vehicles to the Gulf where they performed extremely well. Deliveries will continue over the next few years.

As the Defence Select Committee has observed, the effect of those plans is to create a "strikingly well-equipped Army". Indeed, we estimate that our plans for re-equipping 1st Armoured Division will increase its capability by some 25 per cent. by the middle of this decade and by more than one third by the year 2000. That makes it clear that our aim of smaller but better forces is taking shape.

Mr. John Browne

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Clark

I am sorry, but I cannot give way to everyone. I think that the House has heard quite enough from my hon. Friend to last it a couple of hours, although that is entirely a matter for you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I was aware of considerable anxiety in the House last night about the Army. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made the distinction between the size of the Army and the identity of particular units. Of course, the size of the Army is a matter for Ministers to determine. But the identity of the units and how this was ordered was a matter for the Army to make recommendations on.

The fundamental point in considering the shape of the Army was that made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery). He asked whether we could today, and as our plans develop, still mount the type of operation which we did so successfully in the Falklands and again in the Gulf. To me, that is the core of the way in which the "Options for Change" exercise should be evaluated. I assure my right hon. Friend, as one who has been intimately associated with these changes as they have taken shape since their inception, that I have always had that very requirement in the forefront of my mind. I can say categorically that we could mount such an operation. I am entirely satisfied that we could do so now and in the future.

Of course, we cannot fight more than one high-intensity conflict simultaneously. That is something which only a superpower can do. The United Kingdom does not have the economic or the basic capability and could not do so without distorting our budgetary provision. But I am entirely satisfied that if we were challenged again in contexts such as my right hon. Friend identified, we could meet that challenge, we could fight, and we would win.

Mr. Mark Wolfson (Sevenoaks)

While I accept that my right hon. Friend has dealt fully with the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) yesterday, may I put it to him that that is not the only key question. So much of the anxiety expressed in the House yesterday was about the Army's continuing commitments, as well as those which could erupt through conflagrations such as those which occurred in the Gulf and the Falklands.

Mr. Clark

That is perfectly true. Our peacetime commitments are another subject. We carry those commitments fully in our mind. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to them yesterday. The atmosphere is more gentle when fulfilling our peacetime commitments. They are matters which we can approach piecemeal. We can adjust and be flexible as they emerge. But the important factor is the crisis factor. Can we respond to a major crisis of the type identified by my right hon. Friend the Member for Pavilion? That is the test of whether a defence policy is effective and working.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

Will my right hon. Friend give way'?

Mr. John Browne

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Clark

I am becoming reluctant to give way because we are eating deeply into the time for hon. Members' speeches. I give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow).

Mr. Marlow

My right hon. Friend has been subject to a great deal of inaccurate howitzer fire from old soldiers. Could he confirm that the military advice from those serving on the Army Board at present is that under "Options for Change" there will be an adequate number of infantry battalions to secure the commitment in Northern Ireland under foreseeable circumstances and that that could be done without overstretch and with an adequate period between unaccompanied tours?

Mr. Clark

That is the whole object of the way in which the structure has been reordered. I am entirely confident that we can.

Sir David Steel (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale)

I appreciate the Minister's courtesy. It must be difficult for him when he gives way so much. One point which was not mentioned in the Secretary of State's speech last night was the future commitment that the British Army may have to United Nations peacekeeping forces. I ask about that because if, as we all hope, the middle east peace conference gets under way, the United Nations peacekeeping force could be on a far greater scale and have far more authority than before over a long period. Do we intend to make a contribution to that and, if so, will not our numbers need to be greater than is planned?

Mr. Clark

At this stage, that point is rather too hypothetical for me to give the right hon. Gentleman the type of detailed answer that he might wish. But we have always managed to contribute successfully in the past. I am satisfied that our general position of reserve will be such that we could contribute to such a force. The right hon. Gentleman looks far into the distance. Of course, if the scale of such a force were enlarged massively, we should have to consult our allies. It would be perfectly possible for all of us in combination to develop a new approach to the subject, which in many ways has much to be said for it.

Sir Philip Goodhart (Beckenham)

Does my right hon. Friend remember that since the end of the second world war we have usually been involved in low-intensity conflicts in which trained and efficient men are more important than smart weapons? Is it not likely that that will happen again?

Mr. Clark

Trained and efficient men are particularly important. I would not want my hon. Friends to feel that I reject in any way the historic value of ancient regiments and the cohesion, morale, pride and combat effectiveness that run with a great historic tradition. These days the trade-off is in allocating resources between the insistent demands of high technology and those of tradition. It is not an easy equation.

I hope that my hon. Friend will not think that I am introducing a note of levity if I remind him that Field Marshal Haig, in writing a paper on restructuring the British Army after the great war, wrote that we must always be careful to carry in our minds the importance in future of the horse. When it was in print he annotated in his own hand, "particularly the well-bred horse".

Sir John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

As my right hon. Friend knows how much I admire his realism and patriotism, does he agree that there is a social dimension in reducing the number of men and women in our armed forces? Are they not the very fabric of the nation? We are doing that at the very time when we are enormously increasing expenditure, amounting to millions of pounds, on extra places at universities for students, some of whom will be taking half-baked courses.

Mr. Clark

I am delighted to have drawn an intervention from my hon. Friend, whom I hold in the highest esteem. I must, however, tell the House that I should prefer not to give way again.

In the RAF, the Tornado will remain our principal front-line aircraft, in the variety of roles for which it was designed, until well into the next century. It demonstrated impressive versatility in the Gulf in both low-level precision attack and high-quality day and night reconnaissance.

The performance of the Tornado is more than a reflection of the excellence of its design; it is also a tribute to the courage of its crews. I should like briefly to refer to the circumstances in which six Tornado aircraft and, sadly, five RAF aircrew were lost in combat operations.

Our investigations into the circumstances have been completed. These made the best use of all the available evidence, including an inspection of the crash site where this was possible. In three of the cases it has been concluded that the aircraft were shot down by enemy surface-to-air missiles. In the fourth case, the aircraft was lost owing to damage caused by the premature detonation of its own weapons. Conclusions on the cause of the loss in the remaining two cases, where inspection of the crash site was not possible, could not be reached; the circumstances of these losses remain undetermined. I have today placed in the Library of the House a full summary of the results of the investigations.

The number of aircraft lost was very small compared with the overall scale of the air campaign against Iraq, but that cannot lessen the loss. In some ways it makes it more particular and painful for the families of the five airmen who were killed. I know that the House would wish me to extend its deepest sympathy to those families and to express its admiration and respect for the courage and fortitude shown by those who survived the loss of their aircraft and endured captivity.

The centre-piece of the future Air Force equipment programme is the European fighter aircraft. Despite the changes which we have seen in the Soviet Union and the countries of the former Warsaw pact, there will be a continued need to ensure the air defence of the United Kingdom and of British forces wherever they may be. EFA is a multi-role, all-weather fighter able to provide air defence of land or maritime targets, offensive support and reconnaissance in a hostile electronic warfare environment. The development programme is going well and we expect the aircraft to enter service with the RAF at the end of the present decade.

The Gulf clearly demonstrated the value of precision-guided munitions as a means of achieving high rates of success against multiple targets and with fewer aircraft. We are now examining the best balance between "smart" and "dumb" bombs and intend to increase the proportion of laser-guided bombs in our arsenal.

We are also considering the purchase of other air-launched stand-off weapons. Such a weapon would not only increase the effectiveness of our post-"Options" forces, but increase the survivability of aircraft. We have now received the tenders for a new generation of advanced short-range air-to-air missiles for the RAF and are evaluating them with a view to reaching a decision in the spring of next year.

The threats to peace and security are likely to be less predictable and, perhaps, more diverse in their scale, nature and origin than was the case only a few years ago. Amphibious forces, by virtue of their inherent flexibility, are likely to be of increasing utility in peace, crisis and conflict. They are an example of precisely the kind of flexible, mobile and highly skilled forces which we envisaged when my right hon. Friend made his initial statement on "Options for Change" last year. They are ideally suited to NATO's emerging concept of reaction forces and they are essential in meeting any national or multinational out-of-area commitments.

Amphibious forces can sail early in a crisis, quietly or with much fanfare, depending on the message we wish to send. They can stay at sea complete with their own integral logistic support for extended periods and then advance or withdraw without violating frontiers or ceding ground. They can raid or land in strength on a potentially hostile shore and at a place and time of our choosing—quite independent of ports, harbours or airfields. There is no other means of providing such a variety of operational choices.

We will, therefore, replace the command and assault ships HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid and I expect to award the contract for project definition of the replacement vessel next month. We will also be procuring the aviation support ship, which will provide a vital platform for helicopter operations. Again, I hope to make an announcement by early next year.

I turn now to the subject which I regard as being of primary importance—a view which I know is widely shared on both sides of the House: defence research and development. The experience of the Gulf conflict with its demonstration of the impact of very high technology has thrown this subject into sharp relief. Last week my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to advances which have made the gap between Alamein and the Gulf as great as the gap between Waterloo and Alamein.

To retain credible armed forces it is essential that we maintain a viable and productive research and development programme. However, the Gulf demonstrated the value of high technology, not only to the coalition forces, but to any future adversaries. If the standard of defence research is not preserved, we shall lose the technological edge that proved then to be so vital.

So although the reduction in the threat allows us to reduce our forces, we also need to retain the capacity to reconstitute our defences in both quantity and quality should the international situation deteriorate. That requires a technological base derived from civil as well as defence activities in industry and sufficiently strong to permit rapid exploitation of state-of-the art technology.

I see an expanding role for collaboration in research with the civil sector. Whereas in the past military needs have usually driven research at the leading edge, in some areas the main impetus is now coming from the demands of the civil commercial market. In the field of electronics, there is an increasing overlap between military and civil equipment uses. I see our making increasing use of commercial technology wherever this is possible.

I am also examining whether we should be researching new technologies and demonstrating them, while not automatically taking them to the expense and the delays inherent in full development, as we have tended to do hitherto.

I recognise that the past few months have been difficult for United Kingdom defence contractors and I take this opportunity to thank them for their forbearance. Now that the future pattern is becoming clear, I have written to the chairmen of some of our largest defence contractors asking for their views on how we might improve communications between MOD and industry. I am very grateful for their many thoughtful replies to which I am now giving careful study.

The Government continue to support defence exports where they are consistent with national defence and pose no threat to human rights in the customer countries. And with a reduced United Kingdom defence budget, exports will become increasingly important to our defence industry, upon which we continue to depend for the bulk of our defence needs. Sales of defence equipment, if handled responsibly, can contribute to regional stability overseas as well as supporting jobs at home. The United Kingdom has always taken a responsible approach to this issue and encouraged other countries to do likewise.

During the course of my speech I have been amazed by the docility with which the Labour party has received my remarks.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)


Mr. Clark

I shall not give way. I understand that Labour Members are behaving themselves.

I was here yesterday and I listened to the contributions from the Opposition Front Bench spokesmen and to most of the debate. The speeches from the Opposition provide a most extraordinary spectacle as they are a caricature of what happens to a party and of the state it gets into when it does not have a policy. No unit can be identified for amalgamation or restructuring, no depot can be designated for closure and no system or order can be varied in size without the Labour party throwing up its hands in horror and great gouts of crocodile tears appearing.

Mr. Dalyell


Mr. Clark

If the hon. Gentleman had sought to intervene earlier I should have been delighted to give way, but I will not do so now.

The Labour party must decide on one question. Does it admit that some restructuring of our forces is necessary, or does it believe that the present condition is exactly as it should be? If there is to be any new structuring, what form does the Labour party believe it should take if it does not like the existing structure?

Yesterday the right hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert) said that we should have more SSNs, but his Front-Bench spokesmen have said that we should have no SSNs and that we should use conventional forces. All the Labour party's thinking is motivated by a degree of synthetic indignation which presupposes that Brezhnev is still alive. I do not doubt that a number of Opposition Members—they are not in their places now—wish that he still were.

How anyone can endorse the Labour party's attitude by going into the same Lobby tonight defies belief. We are the only party that can be entrusted with the defence of the realm—we always have been and we always will be.

5.2 pm

Mr. Allan Rogers (Rhondda)

I listened with great interest to the Minister of State for Defence Procurement and I enjoyed his speech, as I always do. I also listened with great interest to the ministerial speeches yesterday and I am sorry that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement is not present. When he wound up the debate the hon. Gentleman made some interesting points—he pulled them out like rabbits from a poacher's bag and perhaps that is apt for that hon. Gentleman.

We welcome the statement on low flying, which will be of immense relief to people in the areas affected. However, I wish that the Ministry of Defence would look again at the practice of flying as low as 100 ft in certain areas. We are the only country to do so as Germany and America have stopped the practice. There is a great deal of evidence to demonstrate that such flying was not that effective when used in the Gulf war. I look forward with great interest to learn what is in the report as I am sure that such flying was not as effective as the Government have pretended.

The announcement on HMS Endurance was a typical example of the Government's style of crisis management. Obviously that announcement will cover the immediate future, but I am sure that everyone would be much happier if a more measured decision was made soon. The exposition on the citizens charter given by the Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement was most illuminating, especially his statement: Our principal response to the charter will be to continue to provide a formidable defence of our country."—[Official Report, 14 October 1991, Vol. 196, c. 117.] I remember that when the Prime Minister introduced the citizens charter he spoke about penalties being imposed on governmental bodies that could not fulfil their obligations or come up to scratch. I believe that he intended to fine British Rail if the trains ran a little late. Tonight I look forward to learning from the Minister of State for the Armed Forces about the penalty system that will be adopted for the MOD.

The ministerial speeches of yesterday and today are extremely sad given that the Government have been running the defence of the country for the past 12 years. Suddenly, just before election time, they come up with promises of procurement decisions which will give false hope to many people in certain parts of the country that jobs will be provided. We have yet to see those promises carried through. If the Government's procurement policy of the past 12 years is extended in the future, I would not view those promises with any great confidence if I lived in the areas to be affected.

Mr. Cecil Franks (Barrow and Furness)


Mr. Rogers

I will not give way, especially as Mr. Deputy Speaker has already spoken about a time limit on speeches. The hon. Gentleman rose to his feet about 10 times yesterday; probably he was instructed by the Whips to do so. However, I will give way to him a little later.

When Conservative Members bleat about the loss of jobs and Labour party policy in that respect they should look at their record of the past 12 years. It is a bit much for the party of unemployment to start talking about job losses as the Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement did yesterday. In the past 12 years the Conservative party has been responsible for the loss of at least 200,000 jobs in the defence industry and it is about to make 66,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen redundant. However, Conservative Members still criticise and carp about the Labour party policy of so-called "job losses".

Yesterday the speech of the Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement brought back to mind the many days we spent together in Committee on the Atomic Weapons Establishment Bill. Last winter the Government privatised the production of atomic weapons, but, next year, when the Labour party gets into power, we will rectify the effects of that obnoxious Bill.

One of the things that the Secretary of State mentioned yesterday was the export of arms to Iraq. The Secretary of State and his Ministers hypocritically sought to derive some credit for the recent work of the United Nations agency in uncovering Saddam Hussein's arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. They sought to derive such credit again today during Defence Question Time. When the Secretary of State was questioned by me yesterday, and when he was questioned by other colleagues today, he forgot to say anything about the role of British companies and the Government in the export of arms and potentially lethal equipment to Saddam Hussein in contravention of the United Nations resolutions on the export of arms to sensitive areas. Today the Minister of State for Defence Procurement said that the MOD would study critically how and where arms are exported. However, if the Government's record continues to follow that of the past 12 years, the Minister of State's comments today are not worth a fig.

In 1985 the then Foreign Secretary gave a policy statement that was published. He said that the United Kingdom has been strictly impartial in the conflict between Iran and Iraq and has refused to allow the supply of lethal defence equipment to either side". Just before the recess I wrote to the Prime Minister to ask him to put the record straight. My questions were necessary in view of replies to questions that I had asked well before the Gulf conflict, following the exploitation of the Kurds in northern Iraq. When I asked questions of the Department of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Defence and the Prime Minister's Office about the export of arms to the area, they denied that any such exports had taken place.

In the Army debate on 1 July 1991 I asked the Minister of State for the Armed Forces to confirm his continual statements to me over the past two years that there were no arms sales to Iraq. The Minister replied: There were certainly no arms sales to Iraq from British firms. That is what I have always said and I still confirm that absolutely".—[Official Report, 1 July 1991: Vol. 194, c. 55.] Although I had reason to doubt the veracity of the answers that Ministers had given to me, I had to accept them as the truth. After all, though members of the Tory party, they were Ministers of the Crown.

Imagine the shock when we saw the list that was submitted to the Select Committee on Trade and Industry only a week or so after the Minister's statement. The list of materials exported to Iraq included armoured vehicle spares, armoured vehicles, artillery fire control equipment, fast assault craft, laser rangefinders and mortar-locating radar.

One must draw the conclusion that Ministers did not know what was going on in their Departments, that they knew but were not prepared to tell, that they were telling lies or that the Government do not define such equipment as lethal. I found it all strange, especially following the visit of the Prime Minister in which he projected himself as a war leader. At the Tory party conference he spoke of the way in which he got out of his helicopter and talked to the troops. I wonder whether he asked them on that occasion how they felt about the Iraqis using equipment supplied by British firms with the approval of the British Government. Did he ask if they were happy to face those weapons? Having written to the Prime Minister on the subject, he has not given me an answer.

Sir Colin Chandler, then head of the Ministry of Defence export services organisation, said at the 1986 British Army equipment exhibition that there was no such thing as a non-lethal weapon. When one examines the equipment that was sent to Iraq, the Government having been involved in those exports, it is clear that questions remain to be answered and that an inquiry must be set up.

The only response has come from the chairman of the Tory party, the custodian of the truth, the successor to Mr. Jeffrey Archer. The right hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Patten) was quoted in The Guardian as saying: I do not honestly think there is as much public interest as you might suppose in Labour muck-raking. I asked him to tell me, if that was the case, who created the muck in the first place. The truth is that it was created on the Government Benches, in view of their involvement in this sordid business. The Government have systematically turned their backs on the matter and looked with a blind eye at arms exports to an area and countries circumscribed by the United Nations. It was odd how during the Gulf war the Government invoked United Nations resolutions in justification of the Gulf action, even though for a number of years they had been exporting arms in contravention of other resolutions.

The chickens came home to roost for the Government last August, with British made weapons guided by British made radar being pointed at British troops. In addition, we had paid for the weapons. Saddam Hussein did not pay for them, for when he reneged on his payments, the British Government, of which the present Prime Minister was a member, picked up the tab. In August 1983 the then Prime Minister, the right hon. Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher), announced that the Export Credits Guarantee Department was extending substantial loans to Iraq. When Iraq reneged on those loans, the British taxpayer picked up the bill.

Mr. Alan Clark

The hon. Gentleman has made some poisonous charges but they have been couched in such general terms that he owes it to the House to be specific. What weapons is he talking about, on what contract did the Iraqis default and what is his evidence for saying that the British taxpayer picked up the bill?

Mr. Rogers

The evidence is clear from the actions of the ECGD, which guaranteed the loans that the British Government gave to Saddam Hussein. Those were the extensions of credit, and when he did not pay the bill——

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

For what?

Mr. Rogers

For weapons.

Mr. King

What weapons?

Mr. Rogers

The weapons that were listed—[Interruption.] It is clear that Conservative Members are squirming and do not like what they are hearing. The list was submitted to the Select Committee, as I explained—[Interruption.]—and in addition to the items I mentioned, it included tank spares, Land Rovers, radar equipment, Cymbeline battlefield equipment, control and weather systems, munitions, propellants and even propellant for the big gun. All of that was exported with the complicity of people involved in the British defence industry.

I leave the issue there. I have dealt with it at some length in view of the hypocritical stance of the Government in recent days.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

Before my hon. Friend leaves the subject of exports to Iraq, may I ask if he is aware that the total cost of exports underwritten by the British Government in the 10 years before the Gulf conflict was £1 billion and that the Government have so far refused to reveal how much of that they have had to pay because of non-payment by Iraq? That equipment was used to manufacture weapons of mass destruction used against the Kurdish people in 1988.

Mr. Rogers

The Government have refused to provide details of the annual value of arms sales to Iraq, despite having given similar figures for Malaysia. It is all very well for Ministers to demand specifics from my hon. Friends and I, but we are faced with the most secretive Government we have ever had. Whenever we table questions or otherwise try to get information, they wrap themselves in the Union Jack and say that to give the facts would be against the national interest or that it is commercial and confidential.

Mr. Churchill (Davyhulme)


Mr. Rogers

I close my remarks on the Iraq issue there because I want to get on and I have put on record our views about the hypocrisy of the Government towards the whole matter.

A consistent complaint over the years has been about the ineptitude of the Government's management of defence procurement. In the early to mid-80s the Tory conference darling, the right hon. Member for Maidenhead—[HON. MEMBERS: "Who?"]—was appointed Secretary of State for Defence, and Tory Members who were here at the time welcomed him with enthusiasm as the smart business man who would reform the Ministry of Defence. They said that the right hon. Member for Maidenhead—[Interruption.] I meant to refer not to the hon. Member for Windsor and Maidenhead (Sir A. Glyn) but to the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine).

Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne)

The hon. Gentleman got that wrong, just like he has got all his other facts wrong.

Mr. Rogers

The hon. Gentleman should stop twittering. The hon. Member for Windsor and Maidenhead has contributed a damn sight more towards the security of this country than the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire) will ever do.

It was thought that the right hon. Member for Henley would turn out to be the smart business man who would reform the Ministry of Defence. He was to be the hatchet-wielder, the butcher who would cut up the fat cats of the defence industry—those members of the Conservative party who, in true Tory tradition, had been ripping off the taxpayers for years—but they did not realise how good a hatchet-wielder he would turn out to be. His reforms may have had short-term benefits, but they created as many problems as they solved. The major project statement published by the Government leads us to believe that, despite the so-called reforms in defence procurement, many programmes are still subject to cost overruns and time slippage.

The National Audit Office has discovered that seven major projects show a variation in projected spend well in excess of 20 per cent. in real terms. In the case of 19 out of 33 projects, there had been a significant time slippage— well over two years. The so-called tougher contract conditions were supposed to fall on the contractor and not on the taxpayer, but, in practice, the taxpayer is still incurring considerable extra cost. More important, our armed forces are having to wait for up-to-date equipment, and having to extend the life of out-of-date material.

Many of the slippages occur as a result of the change in specification made by the MOD because of the lack of skilled personnel to prepare estimates. I was very pleased to hear the Minister of State say today that the Gulf war had brought the importance of research into sharp focus. However, although I then waited to hear what the Minister was going to do about the matter, I still have not heard anything other than that it is in sharp focus.

I understand why the Government are not coming up with the proposals. In recent years, savage and substantial cuts have been made in defence research and development. Anything that the Government do over the next 10 years will probably not be sufficient to rectify the wrongs that have been perpetrated.

The Government may talk about research and development that is defence-oriented, or carried out within specific Departments. The worst damage that is being done to scientific and other research, however, is being caused by the Government's attacks on universities and the public education system. If scientists are not emerging from the universities, it is no good our having all these grandiose defence establishments: there will be no scientists ready, able and willing to work in them.

The Government's management of high-risk defence programmes still leaves much to be desired. That is typified by the recent debacle of the type 23 frigate programme. As I have said, the problem is compounded by misguided Government cuts. [Interruption.] It is no use the Minister muttering; it is he who has been making those cuts. The withdrawal of resources following the reorganisation of the defence and research establishments means that only very limited technological support is available to the MOD from the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment.

The MOD is increasingly having to rely on technical design advice from the prime contractors. That is not the best position for a Department that is going to purchase from those same people, and for the Government to be so lax and inept in its management of programmes and specifications certainly does not set a good precedent for industry.

Mr. Franks

The hon. Gentleman has made great play of what he terms the Government's secrecy, and of cuts that have been made. Perhaps I can help him by asking him to remove the veil of secrecy that surrounds the Labour party's policies. Perhaps he will not be secretive, but will tell the House what his party, if it were in government, would propose to do about the fourth Trident submarine. Perhaps following the comments made last night by the hon. Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) he will also tell us what his party proposes to do about the SSN submarines—that is, strategic submarine nuclear—that are being built.

Mr. Rogers

I anticipated that question: as the Minister of State said earlier, the hon. Gentleman has a strong constituency interest in the matter.

Labour does not believe that a fourth Trident boat is necessary. If, however, an order for one were placed before a general election, an incoming Labour Government would have to examine the contract—[Interruption.] Conservative Members should listen. The hon. Gentleman asked a question to which they must want to know the answer, but they have not the courtesy to listen. An incoming Labour Government would have to examine the contract, and the cancellation charges associated with it, before making a decision.

Mr. Franks

What about the SSN submarines?

Mr. Rogers

I want to make my own speech.

Yesterday, Conservative Members spent a good deal of time criticising Labour's defence policy—

Mr. Franks

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Yesterday afternoon, the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) said that he would allow me to intervene later. When I sought to do so, he did not honour his word. The hon. Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) did exactly the same. The hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) said that he would reply to me, but he has not replied to my question about the SSN submarines.

If Opposition Members do not honour their words, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is it incumbent on me to continue to call them "honourable Members"?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. That is a point of protest; it is not a point of order for the Chair.

Mr. Rogers

Yesterday, Conservative Members spent a good deal of time—[HON MEMBERS: "What about the SSNs?"]

Mr. John McWilliam (Blaydon)

Before my hon. Friend responds to the Conservative chants of "SSNs", should he not ask Conservative Members to tell the House openly about the state of the current SSNs?

Mr. Rogers

With all due respect to my hon. Friend, I do not intend to go down that road now.

We understand why the Conservative party does not want to concentrate on its estimates. We understand why Conservative Members continually try to divert the discussion to the subject of our policies. They bleat about the job losses that would result if a Labour Government were elected—but this is the party that uses unemployment as an economic tool; a party that believes that, regardless of human misery, that is all that unemployment means. [Interruption.] The Minister's Parliamentary Private Secretary—I believe that the hon. Member for Berkshire, East (Mr. MacKay) is his PPS; he is all dressed up—is clearly intent on preventing the debate from proceeding. If he does not mind, however, I shall continue to speak over the racket that he is making.

Given that the MOD has reduced the number of regular service personnel by 6 per cent. since 1985, and has cut the number of civilian employees by 19 per cent. over the same period, it is pretty ripe for Conservative Members to talk about job losses. According to the Government's records, there have been substantial losses in British defence firms since January 1990.

Yesterday, Opposition Members were pleased to hear about the Scottish Office proposals to set up a defence industries initiative to work with companies and communities affected by reductions in demand for defence products. It was heartening to learn from a press release that the Scottish Office is to build into that initiative our proposals for a defence industry diversification agency. I am glad that the Tories are picking up our policies. Defence industry job losses in Scotland are substantial, and we cannot wait until next summer to put them right. If the Tories are prepared to do that, we applaud their efforts.

One of the issues presented to the Select Committee was the use of the Royal Engineers to carry out mine clearance in the Gulf on behalf of a private company; that was dealt with at some length. Questions need to be answered. Perhaps, for instance, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces will be able to tell us more precisely what are the terms of the contract, why the British soldiers could not have dealt with it themselves, and how much profit the private company is making—especially as it had received a Government handout of hundreds of millions of pounds a little earlier. More importantly, can he tell us whether, should there be an accident, soldiers would receive civilian compensation or the lower rates of service compensation? Moreover, if service men refuse to work for a private company, will that be allowed?

One aspect that very much concerns the Opposition is the Ministry of Defence's attitude towards the acquisition and holding of land for training purposes. Last July the Minister of State for the Armed Forces said—I quote him, in part—that The Ministry of Defence is always considering areas throughout the United Kingdom, to increase the number of training grounds. We still do not feel … that we have enough training areas and we should like to extend them if the opportunity arises. Scotland is certainly an area that we have been considering, for example, when estates are up for sale. I understand that the Nugent committee made fairly strong recommendations for the release of a great deal of defence land. I accept that since then some of that land has been released, but much more could have been released. Much of the land that has been released is on the urban fringes rather than in areas of outstanding natural beauty in Scotland, Wales and certain parts of England. I hope that the Ministry of Defence will look critically at its land holdings.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

Would it not be useful if the Government set up a new committee similar to the Nugent committee to carry out a full review of its defence land holdings? The Nugent committee made recommendations about many areas, such as Lulworth cove. It said that the defence use could be substantially reduced and that people could enjoy those areas instead of having to be used as military training grounds.

Mr. Rogers

I agree with my hon. Friend. There is no reason why that land should not be released. I applaud what has happened at, for example, Castlemartin. The public are allowed on to the tank training area when it is not being used by German Panzers. I presume that the German Panzers will return home and that Castlemartin may become redundant for tank training purposes. The Ministry of Defence may therefore not need to retain that land.

Last week I listened to the Prime Minister's speech at the Tory party conference. [Interruption.] I must confess that I did not want to do so, but the rugby on the other channel was so bad that I thought that, of the two horror stories, watching the Prime Minister was probably the best. What struck me was the Prime Minister's steely determination to put the country right, to redress the ills of our society. However, as I watched him it occurred to me that he seemed to have forgotten that his Government are the authors of all our ills and woes. The Prime Minister wants to rectify the ills that he has created. For the past 12 years he has been part of the Government. At one time he lived in No. 11 Downing street.

At Blackpool the Prime Minister indulged in a de-Thatcherisation exercise. He said that for the last 12 years he had had nothing to do with those policies, that he never put his hand up in favour of them, and that now he wants nothing to do with them. Neither the Prime Minister, nor the Government, nor the Ministry of Defence can escape their past. In the run-up to an election it is no good pretending that they are starting with a nice clean sheet and that they will write the future of our defence industry and our Armed Forces on that sheet. I had exactly the same feeling when the Secretary of State for Defence spoke in the debate. Yesterday he made great play of the expression—as did the Minister of State for Defence Procurement today and as the Secretary of State did on the radio this morning—"smaller and better" forces. No one disputes that our armed forces will be smaller. Conservative Members are going to object to that in the Lobby. Whether our armed forces will be better because they will have better equipment remains to be seen.

The Secretary of State said that the Army has the right to be sceptical. The Army certainly has every right to be sceptical. It also has every reason to be sceptical. This Government's defence procurement record does not instil confidence in anyone. As the Secretary of State said on the radio this morning, the equipment that the British Army had in Germany last year meant that it could not go into action in the Gulf without expensive, extensive and urgent up-dating, combined with the cannibalising of tanks in order to get them moving to go to the Gulf.

Last year Opposition Members stated these truths. The Government denied that this was so. However, the truth has now come out. The Government have run out of places to hide and this morning the Secretary of State had to confess. The Government will not be around long enough to do much more damage to our defence industries. Next year, when we win the election, we shall put right the wrongs that they have created for our defence industry over the last 10 years.

5.35 pm
Sir David Price (Eastleigh)

In the interests of the many right hon. and hon. Members who wish to speak, I shall not attempt to answer the election speech of the hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers).

Like you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am one of a rapidly diminishing number of right hon. and hon. Members who belong to a generation who had to pay a very heavy price in blood for the continuous neglect of defence in this country throughout the 1920s and the larger part of the 1930s. We came out of the second world war and went back to civilian life determined that neither we nor subsequent generations should forget that. That is why I am not one to press our Government to declare an immediate peace dividend because of the dramatic changes that have taken place in eastern Europe and that are continuing to take place in the Soviet Union. For me, the better securing of peace which results from these changes is in itself a more than sufficient dividend for our proper investment in defence. In any case, the future balance of power in the world is difficult to forecast at this precise moment. It is probably always difficult to forecast, but it is particularly difficult now. Therefore, common prudence tells us not to be in too much of a hurry to count our peace chickens before they are hatched. Let us never forget the old saying: The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. I trust that all hon. Members agree that the size and the mix of our armed forces must at any time be related to the likely threats against which we must protect ourselves and to any additional duties which might reasonably fall to our armed forces to fulfil. I have two such duties in mind. The first was mentioned by the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel): to support a United Nations peacekeeping initiative. I think that that duty is likely to increase. The second duty is to respond to any major international disaster. I pleaded at the beginning of the Gulf conflict that we should send more help to Jordan for that very purpose.

In the changed circumstances of 1991, it is not easy to define those threats with any precision. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has made a brave effort to do that in his White Paper. However, it is worth reminding ourselves, as several hon. Members did yesterday, that the two major conflicts in which our armed forces have been involved during the past 10 years were both outside the NATO area and that neither involved those potential enemies against whom our defences have been principally deployed—the Warsaw pact countries. Nor do I believe that the recovery of the Falkland Islands from Argentina or the recovery of Kuwait from the Iraqis had been the subject of major military contingency planning in the years preceding them.

The fact that both operations were carried out successfully does great credit to our armed forces but rather less to our military foresight. Therefore, I commend to the House the statement in paragraph 251 of the White Paper which says: Nothing could have demonstrated more clearly the need … to maintain effective forces, who train realistically, are well supported, well manned and well motivated. Our decision to maintain balanced forces, able to meet the unexpected with a skilful and effective response has been completely justified. It goes without saying that this admirable statement of purpose can be fulfilled only by the appropriate commitment of sufficient resources. I trust that so far the House agrees with me. Therefore, the outstanding question before us is whether the White Paper proposals achieve that or, to the extent that they do not, whether that can be rectified.

It has been suggested that the changes have been Treasury led and have largely Treasury objectives. On a number of occasions my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has assured us that that is not the case and I invite the House to accept those assurances. However, there are areas of defence that worry some hon. Members. Three areas worry me and I have experience in them all. First, I am concerned about the Merchant Navy. As the House knows, I have always involved myself in the affairs of the Merchant Navy and I declare every form of personal interest, including a constituency one. In paragraph 440 of the White Paper my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State tells us, in relation to the Gulf operation: We were able to meet all our requirements on this occasion by commercial charter, but in a future operation we might need to requisition vessels. The key sentence says: The availability of British-owned and flagged vessels is therefore of continuing importance. As the House knows, the number of British-flagged vessels is declining. I know that this matter involves more than the Ministry of Defence, but I invite my right hon. and hon. Friends to tell us what they intend to do about it.

My second concern is the mix in the Territorial Army. I think that the House will agree that as we reduce the numbers in the regular Army the role of the TA becomes more important as does the mix of skills within it. I have been approached by people involved in the TA in Wessex, my part of the country. They have asked me to draw the House's attention to two concerns. First, their understanding is that the establishment of the TA Royal Army Medical Corps is to be reduced by half. The House would wish to know the logic behind that. If my thesis is correct, the TA exists to furnish in war those parts of the regular Army that are not needed in peacetime soldiering to the same extent as in a military operation. It seems that the TA medical service is a classic candidate for that role. To reduce its numbers drastically must be damaging to the national interest, both military and civilian, apart from any possible disaster roles in which it may become involved.

The second concern is about the transport units in the TA. The House will recall that the RAMC and the Royal Corps of Transport contributed more than an arithmetical proportion to the Gulf operation and they did so extremely well. Therefore, in all our talks we must remember the role of the medics and the drivers. I hope that my right hon. Friend can reassure me.

My third concern deals with the infantry, which has occupied much of the House's time. I know the strong feeling that we all have about our county regiments. In Treasury terms the infantry is always a cheap option. However, the late Field Marshal Montgomery said that the infantry is the central core of the fighting machine, on which all else depends. My figures suggest that the cost of an infantry battalion per year is between £10 million and £12 million. To add six infantry battalions to the 38 that my right hon. Friend wants would cost between £60 million and £70 million extra. If we allow a little for overheads and a few more people at brigade, we could settle for a figure of £75 million to £80 million. Much of the aggro about great regiments going would, to coin a phrase, dissolve at a stroke. As a reference point for the House, my research suggests that one Challenger 2 tank costs about £4 million and one Tornado aircraft costs about £25 million. So, every time a Tornado crashes in training, it costs the equivalent of two infantry battalions. My right hon. Friend could afford to give a little on the matter of the infantry battalions without adding significantly to his expenditure. If in the future we were short of infantry, my right hon. Friend would find it difficult to go to the supermarket and buy a do-it-yourself infantry battalion because they do not come off the shelf like that. It does not involve great cost to keep a few extra battalions.

As my right hon. Friends knows, I am not happy about the way in which he has treated the Foot Guards. I know that one or two of my hon. Friends want to develop that if they catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My right hon. Friend has not satisfied me on the necessity of that treatment. I am in a generous mood and I am not standing at the next election. To use an old phrase, I am almost demob happy. If my right hon. Friend cuts us down in the way that he intends, please cut down public duties equivalently. It would add enormously to the distortion of our military duties and would involve virtually nothing but public duties if they are to be retained at the present level. I am sure that my right hon. Friend will respond to my plea to cut public duties, but I fear that it will mean that when Christopher Robin goes to the palace with Alice he may be disappointed, as will the Japanese tourists. However, they will have no grounds for complaint because they will know that a King will have decreed it.

5.47 pm
Mr. Denis Healey (Leeds, East)

I belong to the same dwindling band as the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) who fought in the last war because of the follies of pre-war Governments and I share many, but not all, of the views that he has just expressed. I am also demob happy and it is an agreeable feeling.

What depresses me about the Government's handling of the debate is that we have little more information now than we were given in June last year about the nature of the commitments that the Government expect us to have to face in the future and how the forces that they have decided to maintain are related to those commitments. For example, we have no idea why the Government have chosen to cut the Army far more than the Navy or why, within the Navy, they have decided to cut the submarine force far more than the surface fleet. Both those decisions are profoundly mistaken but we have had no excuse for them.

There has been some consensus in the House, but I fear it is at a very obvious level. None of us believes that there is a significant danger of war or of an attack on Europe from the east, and if such a danger arose we would have several years to prepare for it. That is one of the bases on which the Secretary of State has founded his decisions.

Secondly, we all recognise that the end of the cold war has led to an explosion of nationalism, which has created immense instability in what was once the Soviet empire of eastern Europe and in what was once the Soviet Union. We should have been well prepared for that because the end of the British, French and Dutch empires produced the same instability in the third world, and that instability has lasted from 1945 to this day. We know that by the terms of its treaty NATO is forbidden directly to act in those areas of instability, although its members are free to do so if they wish, as they mostly decided they would when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

It is not easy to decide when it is wise to commit British forces to such an enterprise. I believe that the Government were right not to support calls for military intervention in Yugoslavia from people who would not provide troops. The time might come when some police force might play a role, but certainly not now.

There may now be second thoughts, even on the Conservative Benches, about the wisdom of intervening to protect the Kurds in Iraq, as we have found that the Kurds were recently attacked simultaneously inside Iraq by aircraft from our Turkish NATO ally and by Saddam Hussein's armed forces. I found it a little shaming that the only European Government to comment on the Turkish action were the German Government.

Our main task, surely, if we all agree with what I have said so far, is to try to prevent the existing instability, which is much more widespread than before the end of the cold war, from leading to a hot war. I suggest that this is primarily a task not for western armed forces but for action in other fields. We must begin to define security much more widely than we have been used to during the cold war. With respect to the Minister of State for Defence Procurement, who, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) pointed out, will sell arms to anyone who has money to offer, and many who have no money to offer, we must control the trade in arms with areas of instability. It is worth reminding ourselves that the big five powers—Russia and the main western powers— spent $60 billion this year on defeating a threat that was created entirely by their own arms exports, to which, as my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda pointed out, we contributed. How much wiser it would have been, for our own security, to have spent that money on reducing the economic causes of instability.

I know that it will be difficult to reach agreement on how to control the arms trade, but while agreement is being reached there is an overwhelming case for freezing all arms exports to areas of instability, notably to the middle east. At one time, the American Administration seemed to be toying with that, but they have now dropped it.

We also face new problems, the full range of which we did not understand until after the Gulf war, in banning exports of dual technology—technology that can be used for civilian and military purposes. Before the Gulf war, few western countries, including our own, were not involved in supplying Saddam Hussein with the technologies that enabled him almost to produce nuclear weapons.

If we want to control the trade in arms, we must also control the production of arms, otherwise countries without their own arms industries could be at the mercy of countries that have substantial arms industries, as Croatia is now at the mercy of Serbia. That is best done by tying economic aid to cuts in military budgets. That has been proposed by Mr. Camdessus, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and I desperately hope that the Government will support that idea not only for the third world but for the Soviet Union. If I understood the Minister, he was rather suggesting that they had some sympathy with that idea.

Thirdly, we must try to cut existing forces not only in the third world—they would never accept that—but in the rest of the world as well. President Bush and Mr. Gorbachev have set a useful example by the initiatives they have taken in the past few weeks. The United Nations must play the central role in all this enterprise, and the work of the special committee of the Security Council in Iraq recently showed how valuable that role can be. As the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Sir D. Steel) suggested, it must also develop machinery for the peaceful settlement of disputes, covering the rights of minorities and dangers of untenable frontiers such as those in the middle east that affect Palestine and the Kurds. We must regenerate the Military Staff Committee to provide a stand-by police force to monitor such agreements.

But the point that seems to have been missed in this debate is that economic breakdown in eastern Europe, the ex-Soviet Union and the third world could vastly increase political instability and lead to military dictatorships and wars of aggression, especially in eastern Europe and the ex-Soviet Union. Western Europe has a clear interest and moral duty in offering aid at least to the central European countries of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary on the scale of the Marshall plan—a smaller scale, incidentally, than the cost of the Gulf war—and in offering them the prospect of joining the Community, as they all wish. The sooner European Free Trade Association countries join the Community the better, because they will increase, rather than drain, the Community's economic strength.

A big problem arises that has not been discussed by Ministers: what will the security system be for countries in the old communist empire? The east European countries, and some of the Soviet republics, would like to join NATO. Indeed, Mr. Gorbachev suggested that the Soviet Union might join NATO. I do not think that we should dismiss those ideas as idle ravings, because what has happened in the past few weeks has made that more possible, more difficult and more necessary. Yet the United States and Germany have already made such a proposal for the east European countries.

Everything in the world has changed, not so much because of the fall of the wall in Berlin but because of the failure of the Monty Python attempted coup in Moscow in August. The "Coup Klutz Clan" failed to carry out its objectives and as a result it destroyed the three pillars on which the Soviet state has rested for 70 years—the Communist party, the secret police and the Red Army.

The interesting thing which has happened during the past few weeks and which was responsible for President Bush's initiative is that none of the successor states to the Soviet Union now fears attack by NATO, but nearly all —except the Russian republic—fears attack by the Russian republic. In a remark of stupendous and historic folly, a few weeks ago Mr. Yeltsin suggested that, if the Soviet Union broke up, the Russian republic reserved the right to change the frontiers of other republics. Twenty per cent. of the Ukranians are Russian, as are 30 per cent. of those living in Kazakhstan. The result is that they want not only independence but their own armed forces and nuclear weapons.

Last week, the Ukraine announced that it proposed to produce an army of 420,000 men—far larger than any army in Europe. It already has on its territory 100 strategic nuclear warheads. Azerbaijan wants to produce a somewhat smaller army and is already appealing to Turkey and Iran to provide it with the necessary weapons. Kazakhstan has 200 strategic nuclear warheads on its territory. Just as the G7 decided yesterday in Bangkok to send a mission to discuss the economic co-operation of the Soviet republics with one another as an indispensable foundation for western economic aid, so NATO should be considering sending a mission to discuss the military implications of the end of the Soviet Union. I have reason to believe that quite a number of republics would welcome the dispatch of such a mission. Certainly, at the very least, we should make economic aid to the Soviet Union dependent on the creation of a military structure in the Soviet successor states which does not give the world the same cause to fear as President Bush's recent offer.

The economic and military future of the Soviet Union are of immense importance to us in Britain and, indeed, to the rest of the world. An economic cataclysm in the Soviet Union, which seems all too likely, could send millions of refugees across the Soviet frontiers into western Europe and the middle east. One need not discuss, of course, the horrifying possibility that individuals or groups in some of the countries that at present control Soviet nuclear weapons may decide to sell them for money to other countries, particularly in the middle east. Already Soviet military nuclear scientists have been hired by Iraq and Iran. Incidentally, a large number have been hired by the United States, including the Soviet Union's main nuclear rocket specialist, Sagdee, who is now working at an American university.

It surprises me that none of those issues has been mentioned by the Government Front Bench.

Sir Patrick Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

The matter was mentioned yesterday.

Mr. Healey

There was just a mention of instability but there was no analysis of the way to deal with the consequences.

Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

The right hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert) spoke about it.

Mr. Healey

My right hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, East mentioned that aspect—the only Member to do so, and he is on our side. If I am wrong, I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Sir P. Duffy) will correct me if he catches your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker.

President Bush has proposed unilateral nuclear arms cuts—an interesting example of the way in which unilateral arms cuts can be sensible in the right context. To make a theological fetish out of the contrast between unilateralism and multilateralism is as silly as talking in the European sphere about federalism and non-federalism. The real need is to look at what is happening on the ground and how it influences our interests.

No one can deny what I have said, nor that these events have turned the world upside down. The Government's failure to face these new problems is depressing. The United States and Germany have decided to join Japan in recognising that, in the next generation, economic strength will be a much more important influence in the world than military strength, yet in our country we plan to reduce our defence spending, which is higher as a percentage of gross domestic product than that of any of our allies, except the United States. We are planning to increase the gap in spending by cutting our forces to a level higher than any of our allies, except conceivably France—how far France will go has yet to be seen.

The Prime Minister should face this problem. It is not a problem for the Secretary of State for Defence, who boasted that his cuts were not Treasury driven. Why the hell not? Surely, when the British economy is tottering on the verge of collapse and our social and economic infrastructure desperately needs assistance, the Chancellor should say, "Justify your demand for these forces." The Foreign Secretary should not spend his time playing kindergarten games with his European colleagues in Brussels. Last week, there was a wonderful example when the German and French Foreign Ministers tried to go joyriding in the Dutch Foreign Minister's limousine after a meeting so that they could hold an independent press conference before the Community's official press conference. What a way to run a railroad when the world faces the sort of problems that we all agree exist!

The Foreign Secretary should start by considering some of the commitments by which the Ministry of Defence justifies, quite reasonably, its force structure. Is it really sensible to retain our military commitments in Gibraltar, Cyprus, Belize and the Falklands when we are already getting rid of our commitment in Hong Kong? Surely the skill that the former Prime Minister showed with the former Foreign Secretary in selling the people of Hong Kong down the river to save us embarrassment could have been deployed on equally worthy causes in other ex-colonies.

This country's future will depend on our economic success relative to the success of those who compete with us. If we go on spending so much more of our smaller wealth and smaller research and development resources on defence rather than on civil expansion, we shall collapse in the face of the onslaught from our industrial competitors and we shall deserve to do so.

6.7 pm

Mr. Cyril D. Townsend (Bexleyheath)

It is a privilege to be called to take part in what is clearly a highly significant defence debate and to follow the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). The right hon. Gentleman was clearly in a relaxed mood. His comments on controlling the arms trade, particularly in the context of the middle east, are worth careful consideration tomorrow in Hansard. Anyone who has studied that subject knows that we must make progress and that there are 101 problems.

I was amazed to find that as recently as April last year I had the chance to have an Adjournment debate on the upgrading of short-range nuclear missiles in West Germany. The then Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office who replied maintained a straight bat. He said that it was important that we should go ahead with the deployment of those short-range missiles.

We have only to see what has happened in the intervening months to know how wholly transformed the defence scene has been in Europe. East Germany is now part of Germany and on our side. I suppose that, in theory, the captain of an East German destroyer used Warsaw pact codes one day and the next day got out of his locker the NATO signals codes to join up with the communications of his new colleagues.

I pay tribute to Ministers for keeping calm at the time of the coup. You will recall, Madam Deputy Speaker, that there were calls from several luminaries saying that we should freeze the "Options for Change" exercise in the light of that coup. My right hon. Friend the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) was one. Lord Callaghan said something similar, and the right hon. Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale and other exotic villages up there, Sir David Steel, said the same thing. We would have made a major mistake if we had overreacted in that way, especially bearing in mind that many of the changes on which we have concentrated in this debate will take up to four years to be completed. Thank heavens that we did not overreact. We would have looked stupid if we had had to change and then to change back again.

In the most recent defence debate in which I took part I called for a defence review. That has been my theme for several years. I remember John Nott's ill-fated exercise a long time ago for very different reasons. A sensible case can be made for examining our defence commitments and our resources, especially financial resources, to see how best to proceed. In the event, it was decided not to have a defence review. However, I must say that when I read the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1991" I realised that we have had a defence review in this country in all but name.

The cold war came to an end two years ago. Rightly, we waited until the important NATO meeting in Brussels last April before going ahead with our own defence cuts. We did not react unilaterally. We took the trouble to find out what sort of force levels NATO contemplated for the future. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East wanted us to go further with the cuts. I think that we have the balance about right, although it is not an exact science. The right hon. Gentleman sensibly made the point that our cuts are not as deep as those of our European partners. It is right that they are not as deep. We have commitments such as Northern Ireland which are very expensive in terms of infantry battalions. I find myself supporting the Government for having gone as far as they have and for having not gone further. To be frank, they have gone to one extreme of the scale, but within the scale of what I believe is practical and sensible.

I was the adjutant of an infantry battalion when the right hon. Member for Leeds, East came up with his programme of defence cuts in 1968. My famous county regiment was one of those which was chopped and merged, and I well remember the trauma that resulted. It is demoralising for the officers, the men, the families and the counties. I understand the genuine feeling of tension in the British Army at present, which is well reflected by my colleagues who have spoken up on behalf of their counties and the proud regiments with which they or their relations have served.

Having made that point, I must say that the Government would have ducked their responsibilities if they had not cut the size of the Army. The British Army of the Rhine, in which I served happily for several years, is being reduced from 55,000 to 23,000. I served in Berlin at the time that the wall went up. To be frank, I saw more of the athletics tracks than of the rifle ranges, but that is another matter. The whole Berlin brigade will go.

We are losing our commitment in Hong Kong. 'Kith other officers of the Conservative parliamentary defence committee, I visited Gibraltar in 1985. We visited the Queen's Regiment, the resident battalion. We no longer have a resident battalion in Gibraltar. These are genuine cuts in infantry battalion requirements. The Ministry of Defence has little alternative but to make similar cuts in the number of battalions overall. That said, I understand that the Government have faced a thoroughly unpleasant job, which is especially unpleasant for a Conservative Government who understand the basic importance of the regimental system. There have been cries from some Opposition Members that the regimental system is out of date and that a big corps of infantry was the way for the future. That would be a disastrous mistake.

I touch briefly on one out-of-area garrison—the Falkland Islands. Several hon. Members may know of my interest in that part of the world. We have cut the garrison, quite rightly, to a very low level. The rank of the officer in command is, incidentally, incredibly senior for the small number of troops whom he has to command. However, we face a problem, which is not for the Ministry of Defence, but for the Foreign Office.

There is a need to find a long-term political solution to the problem of the area. We can get by at present when there is a very reasonable Government in Buenos Aires, but if something went wrong, if there was a change and if a Government of a very different complexion started to shell some of the outlying islands of the Falklands, we would have to trundle our brigade group down there and keep them there as long as there was tension in the area. We would find that defence planning got hit for six.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

What purpose does it serve at this time to raise such hypotheses? As my hon. Friend said, there is a reasonable Government in Buenos Aires who have completely put on ice any territorial ambitions towards the islands which they may have. The islands fulfil a valuable strategic function for Antarctica and round the Horn. Should not it be kept in mind, therefore, that we have a presence that is invaluable and should be retained?

Mr. Townsend

My hon. Friend and I must debate the matter on another occasion. I take the opposite line. It is a defence liability to have such an isolated garrison 8,000 miles away which is so dependent on the United Kingdom for its defence. In the long run, we must come up with a political change in the south Atlantic which will ease that defence burden on the United Kingdom.

I feel that I have been too bland in some ways so far. If any of my colleagues are members of the Bruges group, I hope that they will grip their seats! I want to support what Lord Carrington said and what Sir Leon Brittan said about some European Community involvement in defence. I am well aware of the pitfalls. I understand that Ireland is not a member of NATO, although I think—and have reason to think—that Ireland would be prepared to play its part in the defence of Europe in future. However, I do not believe that it is practical to continue to isolate defence from the European Community. If I have got it correct, we are allowed to talk about European security, but not about European defence. At Heads of Government meetings, we are allowed to talk about co-ordinating foreign policy, perhaps in the middle east, but we are not allowed to talk about co-ordinating defence in the middle east. That seems short-sighted.

We have gone through a traumatic time in the defence world. The proposals that the Government have put before the House can be defended. They are honest, practical and sensible. We shall have a proper balance of nuclear and conventional forces. I look forward to defending those proposals in my constituency ere long.

Several Hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker (Miss Betty Boothroyd)

Order. Before I call the next speaker, may I remind hon. Members that there is a 10-minute limit? To take even a few seconds more deprives colleagues of their allocation of time.

6.18 pm
Mr. John McWilliam (Blaydon)

I will try to be brief so that colleagues of all parties can get into the debate. I realise that there is a time constraint, which means that I shall be less generous than usual in giving way.

I first thank the Minister of State for the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence for making available to the Select Committee on Defence visits to the Gulf both before and immediately after the conflict. It was extremely valuable to us and to other hon. Members who went with us, who were able to see beforehand the excellent work being done and to bear testimony to the professionalism and bravery of the young men and women who served there. They included the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Dr. Goodson-Wickes), whom we did not manage to meet while we were there.

I remind the House that there are a number of reports flagged to the Defence White Paper, which is what we are supposed to be debating today. The problem with White Papers is that, intellectually, they are always out of date the minute the ink dries, and the present White Paper has gone out of date rather more quickly than most. The 11th report of the Select Committee on Defence, on which I have the honour to serve, is flagged against the White Paper. Just in case any hon. Member has forgotten the words in the report of which the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) reminded us yesterday, let me repeat them now. Page vii of the report states: Anyone buying SDE 91 in order to discover the strategic rationale for the changes proposed would be sadly disappointed. What SDE 91 regrettably fails to do, and does not even set out to do, is to argue in any detail the rationale behind the changes proposed, or provide a coherent strategic overview, in contrast to some previous White Papers which have proposed radical shifts in defence policy. In his speech yesterday, the Secretary of State said that he would attempt to address that point. I have to tell the House that I listened most carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman said and that he signally failed to do so.

A number of issues arise from the reports. One of them is the reduction in the number of battalions from 55 to 38. The hon. Member for East Hampshire (Mr. Mates), the Chairman of the Select Committee, said that he hoped that he would have support from hon. Members on both sides of the House for his suggestion that we examine that proposal. I assure the hon. Gentleman that he has my support and that of my hon. Friends, because the proposal certainly needs examining. Given our present commit-ments and 55 battalions, we already have overstretch. The suggestion that there will be no overstretch at 38 battalions is untenable and needs to be looked at again. We are not merely talking about a mathematical count. I note that the Secretary of State included the Hong Kong battalion in the battalions that would not be needed. But we do not lose our commitment to Hong Kong until 1997—some considerable time beyond the period about which the right hon. Gentleman is talking.

The hon. Member for East Hampshire also said that he hoped that we would be able to discover the arguments —the rationale—behind that decision. I must tell the House that I am worried about the matter. Page 13 of the 11th report of the Defence Committee, flagged against the White Paper, contains evidence taken on 12 June from the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, who is on the Government Front Bench. I asked the right hon. Gentleman about his thoughts: Minister, we are not challenging your decision-making process, we are only asking how it happens. Will you tell us? The Minister replied: As I have said, I am not prepared to go into detail about the decision-making process in the Ministry of Defence. I told the right hon. Gentleman at the time that I found that unacceptable. I can tell him now that I still find it unacceptable. The decision to cut the number of battalions from 55 to 38 remains unacceptable, and the Defence Committee will want answers to its questions. If the Minister is not prepared to give them freely, we shall have to draw the obvious conclusion—that what we thought was the case is so and that this is not a defence review. I, for one, do not think that it is a defence review because it does not seem to address defence priorities or to give us the information that we need about which of the activities of the troops are no longer to be undertaken by military personnel. That is what we need to know. We will want those answers and we will want them in detail.

The nature of the decision to cut from 55 battalions to 38 seems to reflect considerations other than the viability of the units and the ability to recruit. My hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) made the point that the cuts in the Scottish Division, which is fully manned, and the cuts in the Coldstream Guards and the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, which recruit largely from the north, do not seem to be mirrored elsewhere—for example, in the lack of cuts in the Queen's Division. Perhaps that fact merely reflects the Government's projection of likely unemployment in the south as a result of their economic policies. Perhaps they think that there will be plenty of people to recruit to the Queen's Division; I do not know. I do know, however, that the rationale behind the cuts appears politically skewed and I do not like it.

Let me pick up on a point made by my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) last night. What is wrong with reviving the old Durham Light Infantry tag for the Territorial Army in Durham? Why cannot we do that for the territorials in other areas and revive the cap badges of the regiments that have been lost? I do not want to see those regiments lost. My grandfather was a member of the King's Own Scottish Borderers and my father was a member of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. I do not see why those regiments should be lost. At least their cap badges and traditions could be kept. After all, we do not know when we might have to recruit those battalions back up to regimental size. We do not know what will happen in the future.

I will tell the House something else that worries me. A number of hon. Members present this evening were fortunate enough to visit Nepal with the Defence Committee while it was considering the future of the Brigade of Gurkhas. I have already said that I do not want to lose recruitment to the Coldstreams or to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, but such considerations pale into insignificance when looked at in the context of the loss of pensions and remittances in the hills of Nepal. We are talking about the fourth poorest country in the world and those remittances go exactly where they are needed—to the hills. They are not filtered by agencies or Governments. No one gets his sticky fingers on them. Those people have given loyal service to Britain for centuries and I think that to slap them in the face, as the review does, is an insult not only to them but to the many hon. Members who have served with the regiment. The Minister has made a serious mistake in adopting such an attitude to the Gurkhas and I hope that he will reconsider.

For some reason, the Government seem to want tactical air stand-off missiles. Will the Minister tell us in his reply exactly what threat TASMs are supposed to meet, given the effectiveness of the ALARM missile that was used in the Gulf to suppress anti-aircraft radars and anti-aircraft missile radars? It seems to me that the Government are again yearning for a system that does not exist and that is not really needed.

I listened carefully to the comments of the hon. Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Franks) who, unfortunately, is not here at present. If the Government believe that the fourth Trident boat is needed, when will the order be made? Is there any truth in the rumour that VSEL is trying to put pressure on the Government to get type 23 orders to take the place of Trident orders and to screw the price of the Trident order accordingly? If that is true, it will have the most serious consequences on Clydeside and Tyneside. I do not think that the House should conclude the debate tonight without first having heard the Minister announcing the order and stating the price—or not.

Had the Labour party made such cuts, there would have been the most horrible headlines in The Sun, The Daily Telegraph and so on. Anyone who listened to my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) will realise that the Labour party had no intention of making such cuts when it came to power. The cuts are wrong and the Labour party would not have introduced them.

6.28 pm
Mr. Robert Eloscawen (Somerton and Frome)

I want to take this opportunity to associate myself closely with the tributes paid in the debate to Britain's armed forces of today and in particular to those who served us so well in the Gulf. I have not had the opportunity to do so before. Many of those service men were from the Fleet Air Arm base which I am proud to represent in this place.

The RAF and the coalition air forces did a fantastic job in maintaining air supremacy and, as a consequence, our casualties were, thank goodness, exceedingly low. It was, however, an unpleasant war and that is clearly revealed by the war diary of the battalion in which my son served. I read it this morning and its says: We trained for and fully expected a dour and unpleasant fight with an enemy who was both dogged and well equipped. The prospect of chemical or even biological warfare was a daunting thought, let alone the prospect of close infantry work at the point of a bayonet. Our troops did well and they performed as their forebears have always performed. I believe that our Government, the Prime Minister and Ministers at the Ministry of Defence, performed well at that time, too, and they deserve credit for that.

After the changes in world politics no one recognises better than the service men whom I have mentioned and defence factory workers, of whom I represent a large number, that changes have to be made and that our forces have to be smaller. However, the Government have been cautious by not going too far in certain respects; in particular I have in mind the Government's order for the best anti-submarine warfare helicopter that they could buy to protect the Royal Navy. That will keep the Royal Navy ahead in that field well into the next century. Ministers and the companies concerned that are developing that very expensive system deserve full credit for this. I know that Westlands is determined to meet the challenge.

Alas, I cannot continue my catalogue of praise when it comes to the Army. The balance of the reductions goes too deep in the case of the number of infantry battalions. There is, of course, no major commitment for our forces that can be envisaged which we do not share with one or other of our allies—principally the United States—or perhaps on behalf of the United Nations.

However, our military experience and presence in significant numbers is very often essential in adding a restraining hand on such allies in out-of-area danger spots. We should not forget that. In his usual entertaining and interesting Punch and Judy show, the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) reminded us that we are not out of the woods yet with regard to contemplating and planning for disasters and unexpected threats to our security and to those of our friends and allies who might call for help.

Yesterday my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) posed a crucial question about another Falklands or another Gulf conflict and he received a considered answer today. However, that answer confirmed my worst fears. Should we regrettably have to take part in a similar operation, we would have nothing left in the locker, just like that awful day—15 September 1940—when we could not put another squadron into the air. The important point is the lack of reserves when a disaster occurs. We have been terribly lucky in recent conflicts not to meet a high attrition rate. That is what so concerns me.

The proposed reduction in the infantry to 38 battalions, two of which are somewhat limited in their deployment —the Gurkhas—goes to the heart of the problem that worries me and others. The worries are not simply felt by a rusty old firearm on the wall like myself, whether or not his is ill or well bred. The concerns are shared by many in the services today. Not just the senior brass at the peak of their careers may necessarily be worried, but the bright and up-and-coming middle rank officer who will have to see the changes through and the very respected long-serving senior non-Commissioned officers are worried. They have seen and felt the overstretch of unaccompanied tours over recent years. They are aware of the shortage of troops and the extra numbers that are required from time to time as a result of the energency in Northern Ireland and they are aware of the effects on morale, on families and on recruitment. They believe that the changes to the infantry will make it much harder for them to do their proper jobs. Those are serious charges and I am afraid that the comments of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State yesterday did not give me real confidence that they are being answered.

I refer to two of the important reasons given yesterday for the reductions, one of which was warning time. Of course, the warning time of an assault on the central front or anything remotely of that order will be greatly extended and that makes planning and deployment easier. However, our tiny Army must be ready to repel or defeat the sudden unexpected emergency that arises out of the blue. Let us look at the book: wicked men still exist and intelligence has too often proved to be indifferent. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State drew attention to the failures of intelligence in the recent conflict and the same was true in the Falklands war. I implore the MOD not to lean too much on the belief that there is plenty of warning time on all such occasions.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, too, that units of other arms will be better placed to share the infantry emergency tours. However, he is well aware that specialists and others are always in short supply in our services. It is no real answer for a vital job not to be carried out by people wholly trained for it, if that can possibly be avoided.

I cannot allow the lamentable fate of the Household Division to go by default which, to a large extent, it has done. Under the proposals the division will simply no longer be able to carry out its dual job. In the original proposals it cannot have been foreseen or intended that its public ceremonial duties and role, largely in London, would have to be so severely curtailed. Senior officers are seriously warning us that, with the tiny additional increment that it is proposed to squeeze from the total strength of the Army, the five remaining battalions of the Foot Guards and the one battalion of the Household Cavalry simply will not be able to carry out the state duties that they perform at the moment. Some people may not agree with me and believe that the proposal is good, but I believe that the ceremonial duties set a standard far wider than just for all the armed forces. They add something special to the country and the country can ill afford to lose them.

Several Hon. Members


Madam Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that the House will support the Chair in trying to implement the Standing Order.

6.38 pm
Mr. John Morris (Aberavon)

Lest I be thought churlish, once again I will say my thanks on behalf of Wales for the decisions on the Royal Welch Fusiliers.

I wish to deal briefly with one issue and one issue alone, and that is the housing of ex-service men. We have all had experience in our representations to local authorities over the years with homeless ex-service men and those about to be homeless. I have also seen the problem at the other end, both as a defence Minister and as a housing Minister. The plain fact is that hitherto there has been no concerted plan to house ex-service men. If something comes out of the current defence review—I look forward to the Minister's remarks—it will be a valuable and permanent bonus.

We are told in the press of proposals of a group of industry representatives, housebuilders and housing associations to offer serving members, first, 30 per cent. off the cost of their married quarters and, secondly, in the alternative some equity share deals in housing. I am sure that that is very welcome and that they will use part of the 70,000 married quarters, 10,000 of which are vacant. The danger, as with all house purchases, is that the best will be taken, leaving the worst for the remaining Army. I welcome that step as going some way to dealing with the problem.

One peculiarity of the consultations is that local authorities were excluded from them. The chairman of the Association of District Councils, Lady Anson, tells me that it asked for a meeting to discuss the MOD proposals, and that the MOD felt that no such meeting was necessary "at this stage." I read the letter with utter disbelief. It cannot be so. I am sure that the lady is not telling me an untruth.

I shall be very interested in the Minister's explanation of why an important component of the provision of housing in this country—local authority associations—were not consulted. Local authorities, of course, are under great pressure. Many ex-service men do not want to buy their houses, are not able so to do, or do not know which area they want to live in. They have followed the drum in respect of joining the Army and they will want to follow their work when they come out. The Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Families Association tells me that the vast majority of local authorities have nothing to offer by way of housing and that there is a constant trickle of local authorities or housing associations which strike service families from their lists. Council pools are getting smaller. It is perhaps natural that those furthest from the door are most vulnerable. I am told that the most recent one—perhaps the Minister will confirm it—is Rushmoor, a council which includes Aldershot, the home of the British Army. I should like to know whether it is one of the councils that have struck service men from their lists.

There is also great pressure on service families. There is more divorce in service families. Separation periods are bound to get longer with a smaller Army. Soldiers get married younger. Some of us have seen at first hand some of the problems of young wives posted to Germany, far away from the base, their husbands leaving for work early in the morning and returning home late in the evening. They are serious problems.

Over the years, service families tend to become institutionalised. I do not mean that in an offensive way, but they have been cocooned and looked after. Their housing and their furniture, for example, have been provided for them. In that sense, they are less well prepared to meet the problems of the outside world. We should recognise that fact.

I am told that 27 per cent. of soldiers, including officers, own their own homes. That is less than half the national average. On a quick calculation, a substantial number of alternative houses will be needed for service men who leave the services. Some will buy their own houses, some will not be able to do so, some will regard the location of existing Army homes as quite unsuitable, bearing in mind the place where they wish to enter the labour market. They will want to rent, given that so many of their families have been and are in council houses. Their kith and kin are in council homes. How can any plan be drawn up without consultation with the local authorities that eventually will be faced with the problem of homelessness?

The Ministry of Defence, as part of its responsibility, should consider a direct infusion of resources to councils and housing associations. Housing associations are some of the Government's favourite children. They do good work. Therefore, why not earmark a proportion of their resources to be made available to ex-service families? Indeed, a SSAFA-sponsored housing association might be brought into being and resourced to renovate some of the homes that councils cannot repair at the moment. There should at least be communication among local authorities, housing associations and the Ministry. I just cannot understand how the chairman of that distinguished association was able to write to me in that way. Opposition Members will be very interested in the Minister's explanation.

We owe our soldiers and their families a great deal. We have created their way of life. We have given them an expectation that that way of life will continue for many years. We are now breaking that expectation. They are the salt of the earth and we owe them a great duty. The way not to provide for them is for soldiers to have to go through undignified and, for some families, maritally stressful periods when a possession order has to be obtained and served on them by the Army. Soldiers will then enter the ranks of the technically homeless in areas in which they want to work and live. I cannot think of anything worse than to end a military career in that way —the Army needing the home and asking for such an order on a service man.

I hope that my few remarks will bear some fruit. Although my service was short, as an old soldier I understand some of the problems of the young service men whom I looked after many years ago. Service men will now face a very stressful period going into the outside world without the resources and support that they have hitherto enjoyed.

6.47 pm
Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

We have all been moved in this two-day debate by the contributions of right hon. and hon. Members—some of them demob happy, but none of them in any sense out of touch in what they said about our defence at this time. I refer in particular to the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery), and my hon. Friends the Members for Windsor and Maidenhead (Sir A. Glyn) and for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price), my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Boscawen), and my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro).

In the next Parliament, probably more than half hon. Members will not have done national service. It is quite possible that, even now, more than half the members of the Cabinet have not done so. Although the "Options for Change" exercise may not be Treasury driven, the accumulated wisdom that comes with the profession of arms and the experience of serving under the colours is something that the House should hold very dear. It certainly was a formative experience in the careers of Harold Macmillan and Anthony Eden and many other distinguished servants of our country, including, of course, Sir Winston Churchill——

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)

And Clement Attlee.

Mr. Wilkinson

Of course, including Clement Attlee and many others.

We should look at the way in which we run our parliamentary procedures and processes and see whether we can better address the problems of defence. What we lack in personal experience we may to some extent be able to replace by better procedures in this House and better training of our Members. Some hon. Members go on parliamentary service fellowships and return all the better for the experience. I went on a parliamentary industrial fellowship with a major industrial company which supplies armed fighting vehicles to our armed forces. I almost learnt more in that time than in many years spent simply in the House. We should address defence issues here in a spirit of reform.

Let us take five key issues and see how the House has dealt with them. I turn first to the European component of our defences. For many a long year, and now, lucky hon. Members—I say "lucky" avowedly—have served in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Western European Union. They have written reports about industrial collaboration and about European intervention forces. Like members of the North Atlantic Assembly, such as the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Sir P. Duffy),,they have written many other useful reports, all too many of which have accumulated dust in pigeonholes. Now, at long last, Her Majesty's Government claim to have recognised the importance of strengthening the European component of NATO. I hope that from now on the House and the Government will give the WEU and its Parliamentary Assembly the importance which they deserve.

Secondly, I recall that in the 1970 Parliament Ministers insisted almost ad infinitum that the Invincible class carriers, which were called the "through-deck" cruisers then, were not to have fixed-wing aircraft such as Harriers. Several of us, including the former Member for Beverley, Sir Patrick Wall, argued, argued and argued that it was fatuous to introduce this category of vessel into the fleet without Harriers. Indeed, without the Harrier carriers we would not have won the Falklands war. This example shows that the House can be instructive and educative, as it should be on the question of helicopters for our armed forces. We can all recall the Falklands and how overstretched our helicopters were throughout the conflict. The same was true in the Gulf war, yet the Select Commmittee report on the EH101, and other relevant Select Committee reports, are added as a rag, tag and bobtail to the Order Paper, and their recommendations about the need for modern attack helicopters and for modern utility helicopters, such as the EH101, have still not been acted upon by Her Majesty's Government.

There is also the issue of our reserves. Heaven alone knows how we will cope with the uncertainties of the future if we reduce our regular forces and reduce the number of our reserves at the same time. We should at least be compensating for the reduction of regulars by augmenting our reserves in number as well as quality. The Air National Guard and the United States Air Force Reserves played a crucial part in the Gulf war. We should take their example to heart and follow it.

Turning to the infantry, I shall not follow the admirable speeches which we have heard about the Brigade of Guards, the Scottish and other county regiments, but, like the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam), I should like to refer to the Gurkhas. I initiated an Adjournment debate on this matter which, in 1989, also gave rise to one of the best Select Committee reports that the House has ever produced. Yet, flying wholly in the face of all the evidence that the Gurkhas are the most cost-effective troops, that they are fully recruited, that there are 250 applicants for every place and that their selection procedures are of the toughest, Her Majesty's Government have gone against the commitment—and it was more or less a commitment—to keep 4,000 and to go down from this minimum brigade strength to two battalions. It is extraordinary and shows the importance of the Government's taking note of Parliament's sensible suggestions.

Last but not least is the question of procurement. I have advocated for a long time that until the Select Committee on Defence acquires an appropriation function, as is the case with the United States Congress, it will remain a paper tiger and its reports will remain rag, tail and bobtail appendages on the Order Paper. It is important that the House itself takes note of that fact and acts upon it. Unless the collectivity of Parliament does so our Select Committees will remain relatively impotent.

I hope that all hon. Members have read today's first-class leader in The Times, which is headed "Mother of Word-Games". It exposes Parliament for what it is today —a place of party, of privilege and of patronage, where people's aspirations for public office get the better of their individual consciences and judgment far too often. This is also allowed to happen because our Select Committees cannot properly do their job of scrutiny. Therfore, when we are seeking to achieve what we wish to achieve in a debate such as this, we have to adopt all sorts of subterfuges, such as voting against a perfectly sensible reasoned amendment from Her Majesty's principal Opposition, but then voting against the defence estimates themselves. That cannot make sense. It cannot be right. We need to be able to focus on our particular dissatisfaction, such as the fact that it is irresponsible to reduce our infantry battalions to the extent that they are being reduced. We need to focus on that matter and to put it right. The Times leader states: The committees are the nearest Parliament gets to a plausible role in modern British government, the nearest to independence of party, to competence in a subject and to scrutiny of legislation and decisions. I hope that, at the very least, following this debate we will put that matter right so that a defence review will never again be discussed at the fag-end of a Session. The review should have been discussed in the early stages of our processes, as soon as the conclusions of the Gulf war could reasonably have been assessed, not tagged on to our proceedings at the end of the Session. I hope that we can put our Select Committee system and parliamentary processes right so that our defences can be better served.

6.56 pm
Sir Patrick Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)

It is a pleasure for me to follow the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) in a defence debate. In my judgment, no hon. Member has a better feel for the subject or is better informed. I agree almost wholly with what he said and hope that hon. Members will ponder his speech.

I also agree with the hon. Gentleman that the nature of the threat to the security of Europe is changing drastically. We are now moving from the era of a potentially big-war crisis to an era of multiple security risks. Considering the magnitude of such possible challenges, it is obvious that there is no single answer nor one single instrument that can provide the answers. Nor is this something that western Europe can be expected to cope with by itself. Hence the continued and vital need for transatlantic cohesion. So we must be thankful for all the new security structures that are coming along; for the addition of over-arching east-west structures such as the CSCE, notably, as well as for an increasingly tight network of arms control agreements, the Western European Union, and the growing concern of the European Community for peace and stability in all of Europe.

When we are asked where do non-NATO EC members like Ireland and non-EC NATO members like Norway and Turkey fit in, we are reminded of how fortunate we are in the possession of NATO, for NATO remains the one structure that provides actual security to its members, and now even further afield, as was demonstrated in the Gulf.

But we are also reminded of how complex and even confusing European security tapestry has become. Yesterday the Secretary of State commendably picked his way through that maze and, at the same time, in this framework of evolution and uncertainty, sought to demonstrate the ability of British forces to defend the country and simultaneously to contribute to international security. I do not believe that you would expect me to say that he was as impressive on the second count as on the first, Madam Deputy Speaker, yet it is the second which the debate is all about.

Furthermore, NATO is also rethinking its long-established strategy and operational concepts. Although the strategy is not expected to be available until next month, it has already revealed the ace rapid reaction force concept as the key crisis contingency element of the future NATO force structure. It thereby pre-empted some of the Secretary of State's options for change by assigning the corps to British command.

Therefore, the task of the Secretary of State and his colleagues has not been easy. But the measure of creating the rapid reaction force will not be enough by itself. NATO members, including Britain, will also have to develop more skilful techniques of command and control for surveillance and intelligence gathering if crises and conflicts are to be headed off. But all that will prove inordinately expensive—and they are quite apart from weapons systems.

Against that background, certain questions arise. First, has our defence review been well conducted, properly thought through and well presented, and what has been its impact on those who matter first and foremost—our armed services? Despite the Secretary of State's assertion at his party conference last week that the cuts are based on a full strategic assessment rather than Treasury arithmetic, it was apparent yesterday afternoon that he had not yet convinced the House of Commons.

Certainly the strategic implications of this year's White Paper are little clearer than in last year's "Options for Change" precursor. There is no strategic vision as yet. That is understandable. I still sympathise with the Secretary of State. As the White Paper says: the risks we now face are far less obvious and monolithic. But when the White Paper reaffirms Britain's traditional commitments—they exist, but time does not permit me to rehearse them—it is saying that, given the cuts, the Government expect the armed forces to do the job that they are doing now, and have been doing, with a third less of everything. That has inevitably given rise to a fear on both sides of the House that the Government will yet find it impossible properly to meet any one of those commitments.

To turn to just one service—the House would expect me to look first to the Royal Navy—we cannot but notice how difficult is the position in which the Navy is placed. Short of money and of men, it does not know whether it is being asked to run a strategy aimed at the defence of the home base or a capability for intervention overseas.

If the Government are intent on cutting off the long-term future of the Navy, in the words of captain Richard Sharpe, editor of "Jane's Fighting Ships", it would be more honest to say so, rather than continuing to pretend to commitments not matched by the required order rate of new ships. It is difficult to avoid the feeling that the new policy, strategy and tactical doctrines for NATO forces in Europe have not been fully thought out. Even outside Europe, where the Secretary of State has left British military strategy as it is, is he sure that he is providing enough men and equipment? A drastic reduction in infantry battalions and armoured regiments is unavoidable. But is the Secretary of State satisfied that he is not sacrificing the ability to cope with the unexpected; that the cuts will not lead to an over-stretching of forces in peacetime and a dangerous shortage in times of tension; that postings will not become longer; that service life will not become less interesting; and that recruitment and retention will not suffer?

This afternoon the Minister told the House that he was satisfied that high-intensity conflicts, at least one at a time, could be met successfully. But what of the impact on the services and their morale? Morale has already suffered in the past year. There has been so much uncertainty. The Americans have gone through the same exercise, but it has not had the same unsatisfactory impact on their service men.

If the strategic rationale for the Secretary of State's policy looks questionable and its presentational aspects and impact on services morale are also questionable, the budgetary sense of his proposals is even harder to assess. I believe that "smaller but better forces" is a worthy objective. Nevertheless, there is doubt, again on both sides of the House. The House is not yet convinced that that objective can be achieved. The Minister will recognise that there is a real danger that smaller could lead to much smaller, given economies of scale. It is his job above all to follow that one through. He will know that the overheads needed to support small forces are high and that the cuts may push forces below threshold levels of viability. But what about the equipment that goes with those men? In the less well defined security environment of the 1990s requiring mobility, flexibility and above all high technology, the systems that he will have to provide will prove increasingly expensive.

The most serious criticism that can be applied to the White Paper is that it is geared only to the transition from the cold war to whatever may succeed it. Yet it sets in motion a dramatic restructuring of Britain's armed forces without attempting to describe the circumstances in which they will be most likely to operate. The review can be complete only when that restructuring has been related to the emerging international system.

The Secretary of State has pleaded uncertainty. Yes. But if we face an uncertain future we may also face an unexpected threat. We have done so more than once in recent years alone. Therefore, we must plan against uncertainty, no matter how difficult that is. The structures that we choose must avoid rigidity and finality, however much the future remains wrapped in uncertainty and obscurity.

7.6 pm

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)

It is a privilege to follow the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Sir P. Duffy). The United Kingdom Parliament has sat here since 1707. Parliament is a forum for the discussion and debate of issues. We are supposed to be a parliamentary democracy. Where is democracy and debate when the Secretary of State says on television outside this Chamber half way through the debate that, whatever we say and whatever arguments are made, he will not change his mind? That is not government by Parliament, but government by diktat.

The Secretary of State made great play of the advance of democracy in Soviet Russia. Perhaps we have reversed our roles. Those are harsh words perhaps, but if soft words cannot prevent foolhardy decisions, harsh things must be said and I am compelled by duty and with sadness to say them.

The first premise of the cosy picture of the safe and peaceful world that the Secretary of State painted last evening is surely odd when this morning President Gorbachev had to call a meeting to prevent the disintegration of Russia and has also had to call in the United States to prevent civil war with nuclear weapons in Russia itself. If we cannot find the nuclear weapons in Iraq under an international treaty, what chance do we have of controlling them in a disintegrating Soviet Union?

We did not foresee the Falklands. We did not foresee Grenada. We did not foresee Kuwait or the Berlin wall. We have not foreseen anything that has happened. I just ask what unexpected conflicts we will have to discuss if we have a debate in a year's time.

The Secretary of State's second fallacy was his comparison of the artillery. It is false to compare Alamein with the Gulf war. A weapon is only as good as its user, as the Scuds and Tomahawks demonstrated. Far more people were killed by free-fall bombs dropped from old aeroplanes on Dresden in one night than were killed in Kabul or Beirut by thousands of rockets of modern construction falling on them night after night.

I know about that because I was in the artillery and fired the first corporal rockets, or missile rockets as they were called then. The first one went a bit askew. It went off towards St. Kilda, which is a bird sanctuary. That was in the days when Ministers did not come to the Dispatch Box to plead that the Ministry of Defence was environmentally friendly during a debate in which it was seen to be cussedly insensitive to its own forces.

The third fallacy is that we can meet our commitments. No infantry commander believes that. Even if we could, it overlooks that circle of decline which the hon. Member for Attercliffe mentioned: more duty, less training, less expertise, shorter service, the best go and, worst of all, more divorce and less morale.

The fourth fallacy concerns the proposed amalgama-tion, which means destruction, of the four Scottish regiments, which the Secretary of State described as "considerate and fair"—the authorised version in his speech on 23 July—or "careful and prudent"—the revised version of yesterday evening. It is not fair. Under the Goschen formula it is 10:1. If we are to lose four regiments, the English should lose 40. If they are to lose five regiments only, we should lose one bren group. That is a ridiculous concept of fairness. As a result we shall have 5,000 job losses. For those men in the highlands and the lowlands that will mean neither guns nor butter.

The Secretary of State misunderstands the regimental tradition in Scotland. It is entirely different from that of England. There is a weft and a weave—I ask forgiveness of those in Cheshire, Staffordshire and so on—of the whole community and the whole concept of our society in Scotland. The kilt and the pipes are part of the military and civil traditions which are interwoven and inseparable.

My ancestress founded the Gordon Highlanders——

Mr. Menzies Campbell (Fife, North-East)

She gave a kiss to every man who enlisted.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

She did not do so by giving every man a kiss. She held the King's shilling in her lips and when the man took it he got it. All the Scottish regiments are fully recruited.

The fifth fallacy is that there has been full consultation. The Army Board is itself. That is not full consultation. The council of colonels was given this consultation: "You will be hanged, drawn and quartered. Either you are hanged, drawn and quartered or you decide in which order you want to be quartered, hanged and drawn. Otherwise, we will decide it for you." That is not consultation.

On 23 July the Secretary of State boasted: For more than 40 years the British Army has stood in the front line in Europe with our NATO allies."—[Official Report, 23 July 1991; Vol. 195, c 1036.] For 285 years the Scottish infantry regiments have been guarding the safety of the realm of the United Kingdom. They have served worldwide in wholly disproportionate numbers and with casualties in every engagement from Lucknow to Kuwait. The father of the colonel of the Queen's Own Highlanders, already an amalgamation of the Cameron and Seaforth Highlanders, and about to be amalgamated again if the Secretary of State does not see sense, then commanding the Seaforths on the first day of the Somme, went into battle with 600 Jocks and came back with 40. That is the sacrifice that Scotland has made. That is not an argument of sentimentality or of specialty. It is an argument and a warning—I am afraid, a terrible warning —of the consequences of ill-thought-out acts of obstinacy.

Bydand—I bide my time—is the motto of the Gordons. They will bide their time and the Secretary of State will be the victim. If he betrays those who have played the greatest part—the lion's share, or the unicorn's if hon. Members prefer—in the defence of the union of the realm since 1707 with ferocity, sacrifice and loyalty, and those who are most loyal to the union now and who would vote and fight for it, he may find that he has not only cut the Army but broken the union. "Nemo me impugne lacessit" is the motto of Scotland and means, essentially, "Don't affront the Jocks or they won't forget it"—and, by God, we won't.

7.15 pm
Mr. Dick Douglas (Dunfermline, West)

I shall deal later with some of the remarks of the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Sir N. Fairbairn).

Parts of the procedures of this House disturb me and one, if I may speak with great humility, is the way that we pass over bereavements. I hope that the House will forgive me if I preface my remarks by saying how much I miss the late Member for Kincardine and Deeside, Mr. Buchanan-Smith. [HON. MEMBERS": "Hear, hear."] He was certainly a right honourable gentleman. He stood up and made his views well known, occasionally against his party. Although we in the House can differ across the Floor, in other ways we are bound by friendship. I am speaking personally because I paired with him and I miss him a great deal.

There are great paradoxes in the debate. They are most profound in relation to the diminution of tension in east-west relations. We no longer behave as if the Soviet Union was worse than the Third Reich. Now we are concerned lest the Soviet Union disintegrates like a contemporary Austro-Hungarian empire.

The right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), who is not in his place but that is understandable, said that we should cut our defence expenditure even further; but he did not say what he would cut. He made no suggestions. I will not fall into that trap. It is the Government's responsibility in putting forward "Options for Change" to promote their case. The onus of proof for what they are doing is in their hands. We in the Scottish National party say clearly that we cannot have adequate, appropriate, conventional defence and retain the posturing of being a strategic nuclear power.

The old argument was that we needed these weapons because the Soviet Union had them and that, although we were friendly with the United States and they furnished these weapons, we could not be sure that they would use their strategic weapon in certain circumstances, which were never defined, in our defence. That is not the case now. The argument has shifted. Now there is no conceivable reason for suggesting that we would use our strategic nuclear weapon—Polaris if it is viable, and there are great questions about that—against the Soviet Union or its "disintegrating" component parts. Now the argument is that we need them because we have discovered that Saddam Hussein has them. If that argument is advanced to anyone in the international theatre or in any other nation state, the logical question is why should the newly united Germany not have such weapons? Why not Japan? That is a recipe for proliferation.

One of the unmentionables in this debate in relation to the middle east—I do not applaud its omission—is the fact that Saddam Hussein tried to acquire a nuclear potential because Israel had such a potential and was developing it further. That development is still continuing, but what proposals do the Government or anyone else have to disarm Israel? There are no such proposals.

Let us be frank, I am speaking on behalf of the Scottish National party and our amendment makes it clear where we stand on this issue. The hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross made great protestations about how Scotland is being used and abused. Scotland is currently the nuclear dustbin and at the next general election we Scots will have to ask ourselves whether we are willing to have our nation used as the prime site from which strategic nuclear weapons could continue to be marshalled for probable use. Scottish Labour Members in particular will have to ask themselves that question. They are the same individuals who cheered when it was announced that the United States Poseidon fleet was being removed from Holy Loch. Will they be the same people who will cheer when the four Trident submarines come into Faslane from Coulport?

We have been told that the general election will be held within the next nine months and I believe that there will be overwhelming Scottish support for the stance that the SNP has taken tonight and will take at that election—I am willing to wage a bet on it.

One cannot have Trident and adequate and appropriate conventional forces. Let us examine the Navy. The right hon. Member for Leeds, East said that the Army will be cut by one third. One could not cut the Navy any further. A realistic examination of the numbers in the Navy reveals that there are between 40,000 and 50,000 personnel—imagine a cut of one third. The Navy is already starved of adequate surface vessels and the ordering pattern for type 23s has been pushed to the right and diminished.

Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

Dead right.

Mr. Douglas

The Labour Front Bench spokesman may say that I am dead right, but what is the Labour party's commitment to conventional forces if it intends to keep four Trident submarines? The hon. Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) should remember his own speeches. He said that we should not have SSNs but SSKs —conventional submarines. How can the Labour party have SSKs, order type 23s and keep up all the other requirements? That cannot be done unless defence expenditure is increased and not subject to a cut.

I have some knowledge of Yarrow and I have had talks with Sir Robert Easton. It is not good enough for the Government to say that they have put out a tender for three vessels. The resources of the yard were called into being by the Government. The Government said that we needed a naval shipbuilding yard and Yarrow constricted a frigate factory. The Government, having called those resources into being, cannot simply walk away. The same argument applies to Ferranti.

Let us consider the Scottish battalions or what is euphemistically called the Scottish Division. We have spoken in general terms about numbers, but what are we talking about? If we take all the Scottish regiments, the cuts mean a reduction from nine battalions to six, which is equivalent to 3,600 men. That is not even a good crowd at East End park. We are told that what will be left will be sufficient in terms of recruitment from Scotland—no wonder the hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross gets annoyed.

The hon. Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) made great play about the discussions that have gone on with Scottish Enterprise. I do not want to claim any great credit for a defence diversification agency or fund, but when did the Labour party meet Scottish Enterprise to discuss this proposal? We in the SNP met representatives from Scottish Enterprise on 26 June and put the proposals to them.

Mr. Rogers

Does the hon. Gentleman want an answer now?

Mr. Douglas

No doubt the hon. Gentleman will write to me.

There is an excellent article in today's edition of the Financial Times which reveals the importance of defence procurement. The defence industry, called into being by the Government, has many diversification ideas and concepts that need to be underpinned. That should be done by the Government and should be part of their responsibility and it should be part of the options for change that the Government should accept.

7.25 pm
Mr. Churchill (Davyhulme)

It is always a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas). May I say how much his colleagues on the Defence Select Committee miss him now that he is no longer with us?

This has been one of the most crucial debates on the defence estimates that I can recall in the 21 years that I have had the privilege to serve in this House. One must ask whether those on the Treasury Bench are listening to the House, to the Army and to the country. The Secretary of State has, understandably, made much of the transformation of the Soviet threat and the collapse of the Warsaw pact. We all rejoice that the nations of eastern Europe, after 50 years of occupation, first by the Nazis and then the Soviets, have rejoined the ranks of free nations. It is right that we should take full account of that when readjusting our defence dispositions.

Since the publication of "Options for Change" in July last year, we have had to fight an unforeseen middle east war and there has been a Stalinist coup in the Soviet Union that mercifully failed. Both of those events underline how impossible it is to foresee the future and how essential it is to be prepared for the unexpected.

I welcome the fact that President Bush moved swiftly on the issue of short-range and battlefield nuclear weapons. That gave President Gorbachev the excuse to call in the tens of thousands of such weapons that are lying about in depots throughout the Soviet Union. Let us hope it is not too late.

Two nightmare scenarios confront us in the Soviet Union today. First, there is the prospect of civil war in a country that has nuclear weapons and, secondly, there is the possibility of freelance sales of nuclear weapons by individual commanders or groups who may lay their hands on just a few artillery shells to the likes of Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi. Those dangers underscore the vital necessity of the United Kingdom maintaining its deterrent, which is safe in Conservative hands only.

Whatever concerns may exist about the "Options for Change", they are as nothing when compared to the cuts that a Labour Government would impose, with their commitment to slash defence expenditure, not by 5 per cent., but by 30 per cent. Tens of thousands of service personnel would be thrown out of work as well as tens of thousands of civilians employed in the defence industries. That is why I shall be supporting the Government in the Lobby tonight. Nevertheless, I do not want my right hon. Friend to be under any illusion but that I believe that the cuts go too far.

It is a tragic and bitter moment to see lined up for disbandment so many regiments of the British Army, with their proud traditions of service to the Crown and glorious battle honours won over centuries through gallantry and sacrifice. It is especially painful to see senior nonCommissioned officers and others who have dedicated their lives to the service of their country being made compulsorily redundant. We have a special responsibility to ensure that they are properly treated—at least no worse than workers of British Steel who are made redundant.

Like most people, I accept that changes must be made, reductions implemented and hard decisions taken, including a 50 per cent. cut in our forces in Germany. But there is a deep-seated flaw in the premise on which "Options for Change" is based. It is the assumption that we had large enough armed forces in the first place. In fact, we have among the smallest armed forces in the world for the size of our population.

For every 1,000 of population, Switzerland has a mobilised armed strength of 96; Sweden, 84; Iraq, 52; the Soviet Union, 30; the United States, 20; Germany, 19; Italy, 16; France, 15; and the United Kingdom today, barely 11. Only Japan among the major nations has smaller armed forces for size of population than we have, yet the Government are determined to make cuts of 25 per cent. in the Army.

After "Options", in the event of a major crisis requiring the full mobilisation of all our armed forces, out of every 1,000 Britons, 990 of us would be without a weapon and without a war role. Is that prudent and wise? My right hon.

Friend has called his proposals "Options for Change". If that is the case, where are the options? No options have been put before the Army or the House. All I see is a blueprint for cuts. I see no options whatever. Nor do the Government show any inclination to change.

For a nation that aspires to be the world's greatest policeman, second only to the United States, cutting our Army from 55 to 38 battalions will inevitably impose greater strain on the remaining infantry battalions. I listened carefully to my right hon. Friend's remarks, especially in respect of Northern Ireland tours, which will come round ever faster and deprive the Army of the capability and flexibility it needs to meet a crisis.

Much of the overstretch could be avoided if, as my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) rightly suggested, six infantry battalions were added back, at a cost of a mere £75 million, the price of three Tornados. We would probably save that cost in lesser attrition by the fact that we have a smaller air force, remembering that many planes will be in mothballs on the ground instead of flying at low level. In other words, the resources are probably already contained within the defence budget.

Other hon. Members have spoken for the Cheshire and Staffordshire regiments, and I share their concern, but in view of my family's special link with airborne forces, I make a special plea for the Parachute Regiment. My grandfather, in June 1940, called the airborne forces into being. I deplore the fact that the Territorial Army parachute battalions are to be cut by more than half.

The paras are well known for their rigorous selection procedures and excellent qualities, common to the regular and TA battalions. Military parachuting provides one of the greatest peacetime tests for a soldier and every country regards its paras as an elite force. The United Kingdom led the way with its Red Devils—and the Falklands war demonstrated that they do not need parachutes to prove their worth.

The parachute battalions bring special qualities to ordinary infantry tasks, so they should be the last to be cut. That is recognised in the unique decision to retain three regular parachute battalions, a fact which makes even less comprehensible the proposal to halve the TA parachute battalions. On the face of it, the proposal is that one battalion shall be lost—the 15th Scottish parachute battalion—which makes it look like a cut of a third. But because the remaining battalions will be reduced to a standard small size, it in fact represents a cut of more than half.

Rethinking the number of infantry battalions in the Army would be seen as a sign, not of weakness but of wisdom, maturity and strength. I hope that my right hon. Friend will reconsider the matter.

7.35 pm
Mr. John Cartwright (Woolwich)

I begin with a brief reference to my constituency. Woolwich has been a military town since Henry VIII established his dockyard there in 1515. Woolwich Arsenal was set up in 1671 and Woolwich then became the cradle of the Royal Artillery, being closely involved with it since its formation in 1716. Sadly, that military tradition is steadily being eroded. The royal ordnance factory closed in 1967, followed by a number of transfers and shutdowns of a variety of military units. We now know that the Royal Arsenal will close after 1993 and we have doubts about the future of the Royal Artillery in Woolwich, with suggestions that they may move to Larkhill.

I understand the case for reducing the number of artillery regiments from 22 to 16. The awesome firepower of the multiple launch rocket system needs far fewer soldiers for its operation. I also appreciate the need to concentrate training on the most cost-effective sites. But the idea that the Royal Artillery might be forced to leave its birthplace at Woolwich is greeted with absolute horror by many of my constituents. To them, Woolwich without the gunners would be like Blackpool without the tower. It would also mark the end of 500 years of history. When hard decisions must be taken, I hope that there is some small scope for recognising the benefits of tradition and historic loyalties.

I shall concentrate on the wider issues of European defence. It is inevitable in the current situation that we should be debating the future role and reorganisation of NATO. The alliance was established to counter the threat of Soviet communist expansionism. That threat no longer exists in the form which we have grown used to over 40 years. The Warsaw pact has collapsed and the Soviet Union is breaking up.

As hon. Members have pointed out, that does not remove risks and uncertainties. The reverse is the case. The collapse of the Soviet empire is creating new instabilities in east and central Europe. The problems of ethnic and cultural differences and all the ancient enmities are reasserting themselves. NATO in its present form is clearly not geared to deal with that sort of problem. We have the example of Yugoslavia, where the NATO alliance is forced to sit and watch as the tragedy unfolds. So it is clear that we must revamp NATO to meet the much less certain and more difficult threats to peace and stability that we shall see in Europe in the years to come. It would be extremely foolish to risk destroying a tried and trusted institution which has worked well for 40 years in a rush of enthusiasm for some common European defence system.

Of course, we want an effective European pillar within NATO and of course we want closer and more effective co-operation between European Community members in the sphere of defence. But that must not involve trying to squeeze out the United States and Canada from the European scene. It is not just the physical presence of United States troops and weapons that is important to Europe; it is the habit of collective decision-making between Europe and North America. Joint exercising, the development of collective infrastructure and the standardisation of doctrine and strategy have made NATO effective. I believe we desperately need to maintain those very real assets.

Much of the successful co-operation that we saw in the Gulf war stemmed from the fact that individual national forces were used to working together in the NATO framework and were operating well-understood NATO systems and procedures. There is obviously a powerful case for closer defence co-operation within Europe. The Gulf war underlined the importance of sophisticated high-tech weapons and communications systems; but, as the armed forces become smaller, the short production runs required to meet purely individual national needs will not be viable on a single-nation basis. Joint procurement, collaboration and standardization—all the things about which we have been talking for the past 30 years—will be not merely desirable, but essential.

We should be working towards greater role specialisa-tion between European partners; working towards joint targeting, joint training and the creating of effective multinational forces. All that makes absolute practical sense. What concerns me, however, is the idea that a common defence and security policy in Europe can be imposed by a system of majority voting.

Sir Leon Brit tan said something quite interesting about that in the summer edition of the RUSI Journal. He said: There must be no forcing of tactics. When it conies to matters of defence and security there can be no imposition of policy on unwilling partners. That seems to me to make complete sense.

I had understood that the Government were adopting an equally clear and robust position. However, this week we have seen what I regard as disturbing press reports suggesting that Britain may now agree to "operational" security decisions being subject to majority voting in the European Community. In my view, such a concession would leave the Government on a very slippery slope from which there is no way back. Once majority voting has been conceded on the so-called "low-level" security issues, we shall inevitably find ourselves being pushed further and further towards an arrangement whereby major defence issues are decided by majority voting.

I believe that that will undermine the Government's welcome attempt to establish the Western European Union as a bridge between the European Community and NATO. I think that the Government are absolutely right to try to ensure that any European defence policy is compatible with NATO strategy; but that, I believe, will be much more difficult to achieve if we accept the idea that European security issues can be dictated by majority voting.

Like other speakers, I welcome the proposals by both the United States and the Soviet Union to reduce nuclear arsenals, and to step down the thermo-nuclear ladder. I am particularly glad to note the proposed scrapping of the land-based short-range nuclear systems, which I have always regarded as the most dangerous and the least militarily usable.

Nuclear weapons, however, are unlikely to disappear from the world; indeed, the problems of nuclear proliferation are much more likely to grow than to disappear. We have the Iraqi example; and the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) gave us a chilling warning of the risks of Soviet nuclear capability being spread about and, perhaps, falling into extremely unstable hands. I believe that, in such circumstances, the Government are entirely right to stick to the full four-boat Trident programme and to ensure that, in an uncertain world, Britain retains an effective and credible strategic deterrent.

Sub-strategic nuclear systems are just as important, however. Yesterday, the right hon. Member for Dudley, East (Dr. Gilbert) referred to the growth of ballistic missile capabilities in a number of nations in the middle east which could be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction—nuclear, chemical and germ weapons.

I do not accept that the threat of strategic nuclear weapons against such a potential enemy is credible. I think that we need much smaller, much more flexible systems to deal with the growing problem. That is why I believe that the Government are right to pursue the development of an air-launched sub-strategic nuclear system to replace the WE177 free-fall nuclear bomb. Now that the United States has decided not to continue with the SRAM-T programme involving short-range attack missiles, the case for Anglo-French co-operation on the ASLP programme grows stronger. The Government have been examining the issue for some time. I understand that the decision to be made is both complex and important, but I hope that we shall see some positive action before much longer.

For as far ahead as any of us can now see, our security in Britain will depend on a mixture of conventional and nuclear weapons. Those weapons must be modern; they must be effective; and, above all, they must be credible.

7.44 pm
Mr. Richard Alexander (Newark)

A great deal of our debate rightly has been taken up with the proposed amalgamations of regiments, but I think that we should consider other aspects as well—especially the effect of the proposals on the lives of individual service men and women.

This year I was fortunate enough to spend a good deal of my parliamentary time with the Royal Air Force under the auspices of the armed forces parliamentary scheme. Let me begin by paying tribute to the dedication, professionalism and sheer skill of all whom I met—members of every rank. Their worth and courage were proved in the Gulf, and they were particularly exposed there, for all to see. All who did see recognised the great saving of life at the end of the Gulf war which was achieved as a result of the heroism and courage of the Royal Air Force.

I believe, however, that we should now take more notice of the uncertainty that the proposals mean to individual men and women. During the summer, I was astonished to learn that very few service men and women had had an opportunity to read the White Paper, and that it had not been explained to any of them. All that they knew was that squadrons were to be disbanded—as listed on page 84 of the White Paper.

I ask my right hon. Friend to arrange for any service man or woman who is to be made redundant as a result of the proposals to be given at least six months' notice. I speak for members of the Royal Air Force; I have no knowledge of the other services, although I suspect that their experience is the same. Defence Ministers must surely be aware of the turbulence experienced by RAF families who do not know what is to happen to them.

That applies particularly to squadrons in Germany that are to be disbanded. Many come from homes in the south of England, where property prices are now way above the level that any aircraftman, corporal or sergeant would expect ever to attain. They are given a disturbance allowance of, I believe, £800, and are allowed a couple of weeks in which to return to Britain and try to find accommodation. They are also given a single pass each; and that is it.

I am glad that the Secretary of State is in the Chamber: perhaps he can correct me if I am wrong. I freely confess that I am simply repeating what I have been told. I should like to think that I will be corrected; that the redundancy package is significantly more generous, and that those men and women are allowed to come back to Britain two or three times, on passes for themselves and their spouses, to arrange temporary accommodation, look for new homes, consult lawyers and arrange banking facilities—par-ticularly, of course, when they have found a house that they like. If such a scheme exists, however, it is not widely known in the services. Ministers should ask themselves whether they are doing enough for the men and women who will be subject to the proposals in the White Paper.

I am glad to learn of proposals to allow people in such circumstances to take advantage of surplus married-quarters accommodation. There is a good deal of it around the country, and I feel that we should assist not only those who are due to be made redundant, but those who continue to serve. There is continuing anxiety that the gratuity at the end of their time as service men or service women will not be sufficient to get them into the housing market. We must make them feel valued, not undervalued.

The statements on pages 55 and 56 of the defence White Paper, which is all that is involved in explaining what will happen to service personnel, are not enough. Again I stand to be corrected. It may be that the defence White Paper is not the place to expand on the problems faced by service personnel. If it is not the right place—and I accept that it may not be—there ought to be another way in which this can be explained to them. I should have liked the conditions of service to be looked at more clearly and given greater prominence.

I am most anxious that we should use our service men and women as effectively and productively as we possibly can. When I go round Royal Air Force stations I wonder whether it is necessary for all aircraftmen and aircraftwomen and all corporals and sergeants to have nothing but guard duty to do on their stations for one week out of eight. We train them at enormous expense to the taxpayer, yet they have to carry out this unskilled and boring duty, round and round the camp. Furthermore, with the reductions in personnel numbers, those duties, which amount to one week in eight at present, are likely to be significantly increased as the defence White Paper is implemented.

When one considers the highly skilled duties for which these men and women have been trained and that they are carrying out, it really is "Dad's Army" stuff for them to have to spend so much of their time patrolling the perimeter of their RAF stations. In these times, it is also a dangerous occupation for which they have not been properly trained. That task should be undertaken by an expanded regimental or Royal Air Force police. No civilian business in this country would ask its middle managers to spend one week out of eight as night watchmen in its establishment. Our Royal Air Force personnel require a better deal than that. Our RAF stations require a professional guard manned by a professional trained force for that purpose within the RAF police.

I have concentrated on the Royal Air Force, since that is what I learnt about during my time with the armed forces parliamentary scheme. I hope that my remarks do not encourage my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to say, "All that they do is to come back and whine about a service that they studied." I have a great deal of affection for the Royal Air Force. I hope that my remarks will be regarded as constructive as well as slightly critical. All that I am saying is that the White Paper ought to have addressed many of the concerns to which I have referred.

We must make our service men and women feel that they are valued and needed and that their concerns, as well as those of their families, will be looked after. They have no one else to speak for them. Many of them told me about their problems, so I asked them, "Have you talked to your MP about them?" Most of them have no contact or very little contact with their Member of Parliament. After a few years away from this country they do not know who their Member of Parliament is. They have no trade union. No one is asking that they should, but someone ought to speak for service personnel in the way that the police—a similarly disciplined service—have a staff federation. Perhaps we ought to consider a staff federation to look after the individual needs of service men and service women.

If we do not react positively to these concerns, we shall continue to fail to recruit enough men and women to the services. The Royal Air Force needs 9,500 a year. According to the latest figures, only 4,500 are coming in, even in these times of high unemployment. My message, therefore, to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is: make sure that we look after our service personnel and ensure that future defence White Papers concentrate a little more on the service's greatest resource.

7.54 pm
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

I have great sympathy for those who are being forced out of the armed forces and for the people who have defence jobs that they are likely to lose. Between 1945 and 1950 we were able to assimilate back into good jobs far more people from the defence industries and the armed forces and we did so without a great deal of hardship being suffered. If it was possible then and we fail this time, it will mean that the Government have failed to tackle the problem. Far more effort should be devoted to tackling the problems faced by people coming out of the services and by those who work in our defence industries. Alternative employment must be found for them.

"Options for Change" has been a total disaster. It did not even start out as a review. The claim was made that it was not a proper review. Insufficient time was spent on looking at the problems faced by this country. Far too much time was spent on looking at how cuts could be made in certain areas instead of looking at the overall threat. Far more emphasis should have been placed on that threat.

One of the most amazing developments in recent weeks was President Bush's announcement of unilateral cuts. I have supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament for over 30 years. The point has continually been made to me that if unilateral cuts are made, other countries will not follow that example. I feel that I have been very much justified by the fact that, after one person made a proposal for unilateral cuts, reciprocal cuts have been made. That broke the log jam and was extremely important in getting disarmament moving. The response from the Soviet Union and NATO appears to have been generous, but the British Government's response has been minimal. I welcome the fact that nuclear depth charges are to be taken off the ships. However, we have not gone very much further than that. The British Government should go further.

The Secretary of State should look closely at the Polaris submarines. We envisage very little threat from the Soviet Union during the next three or four years. We could unilaterally put forward proposals either to abandon the Polaris programme altogether or at least to say that we no longer have to try to keep up the pretence of having one ship on patrol at all times. It has been clear for the past nine months that, due to the state of those boats, they have not been carrying out the original intention to patrol close to the Arctic circle. On occasion, they have been seen passing boats in the Clyde. It is wrong that the people who serve on those boats and those who repair them should be put at risk when there is no genuine threat. It would have been well worth while to take a unilateral step over the Polaris submarines.

I understand the Government's problems. If they admit that Polaris is pretty well useless, it is difficult for them to go on justifying the introduction of the Trident programme. However, there is now a strong argument that the Government should slow down the Trident programme, on the basis that, at least in the short term, we cannot envisage a use for that weapons system.

The crucial problem now is not that a super-power threatens us, but that a number of powers, such as Iraq, may pose a threat to this country. The threat from those countries is not one with which Trident is ideally designed to deal. We should adopt a different approach. We should aim at getting an effective non-proliferation treaty in place. The present non-proliferation treaty is an absolute farce. Iraq is a signatory. It gaily signed the treaty, but took not the slightest bit of notice of it. The problem with that treaty is that it contains virtually no enforcement powers.

With that treaty running out in 1995, we should be working for an effective non-proliferation treaty that will stop any other country from becoming a nuclear power and ensure that there is an adequate inspection system. That should not mean that, as at present, we can inspect just what is going on in Iraq because there are other countries about which, if they ever obtained nuclear weapons, I would be very unhappy. The idea of deterrence works on the basis that countries behave in a rational way. I fear that there are one or two countries that would not behave in such a way. Therefore, I make a strong plea that we should put all our energy into obtaining an effective non-proliferation treaty.

If we are to have credibility in the rest of the world in suggesting such a treaty, we must ensure that we are reducing our nuclear reliance, not increasing it. I do not understand why we cannot move towards a comprehensive test ban treaty. In military terms we cannot justify carrying out an annual British test. It may be underground, but it still produces radioactive material. We should be prepared to ban it as one of the steps towards pushing for a non-proliferation treaty.

Why do we have to talk about a new weapons system —the tactical air-to-surface missile—when everybody else is prepared to scale things down? We have a problem and it was referred to during Defence questions today. The system that we were most likely to consider was derived from the United States, which has cancelled it. The Secretary of State said that that is not a problem as there are several other systems that we can consider. As I understand it, whichever system we look at will have to be placed on the Tornado, many of which will be based in Germany. I wonder whether Ministers have asked the German Government or the German people whether they are happy to have a new nuclear weapons system on their soil. It is crazy for Britain to be going down that route now. We should be saying that we want a nonproliferation treaty and the way to get that is to look at de-escalating nuclear arms, not increasing them.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) said that, in the review of military requirements, there does not appear to have been any consideration of our requirements for defence land. Most people are aware that, for obvious reasons, during the second world war the military took over large tracts of the British countryside. It was clear by the 1960s that the military had more land than was necessary and the Nugent inquiry into defence land was set up. It made substantial recommendations for the military to release a great deal of land. Since that time we have substantially reduced personnel requirements and it seems logical that we should be considering releasing land. It is a pity that we still hold for military purposes land around Lulworth cove and parts of the Pembroke coast, which are areas of outstanding natural beauty that people should be able to enjoy in peace and quiet. I know that in recent years it has been possible to walk on some of the ranges when they are not in use, but that is not the same as restoring the land to agricultural use. I plead with the Government to carry out an effective review of defence land.

This is a disappointing defence review exercise. The Government should turn their emphasis towards the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world. That would be a far better way of protecting this country than continuing with Polaris and going on to rely on Trident as a deterrent system when it may be difficult to deter some of those who are likely to obtain nuclear weapons in the future. We need an effective worldwide non-proliferation treaty with proper inspection so that we are not held to ransom in the future by any country with nuclear weapons.

8.4 pm

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

The message to the Government from Conservative Members is, "Please think again". The defence estimates are unacceptable and virtually every speech from Conservative Members, with one or two exceptions, has been highly critical of the Government and the estimates. The speeches from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price), from my hon. Friends the Members for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) and for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) and the splendid speech from the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Sir P. Duffy) have been outstanding contributions to the debate.

I represent a constituency in Cheshire where the county regiment is to be merged with the Staffordshire regiment. My regiment, the 14th/20th King's Hussars, in which I had the honour to serve in the 1950s, is to be amalgamated with the Royal Hussars. Therefore, I am sure that the Treasury Bench is aware of my concern and my opposition to the decisions. I believe fervently that the reductions in our armed forces proposed in "Options for Change" fall disproportionately and unfairly on the Army. From my research during the early discussions it was clear that one of the criteria for disbanding or amalgamating a regiment would be its record on recruitment and retention. The Cheshire regiment, the Staffordshire regiment and the 14th/20th King's Hussars have exceptional records on recruitment and the retention of officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks. The Government's decisions have not taken appropriate account of that success.

The Army has been cut regularly for some 20 years and has increasingly been experiencing overstretch, which has been mentioned many times during this long debate. The interval between unaccompanied operational tours is supposed to be 24 months. Currently, from my research it falls between 12 and 15 months and surely that is overstretch.

I want to refer to the infantry and what is proposed for the Cheshire and Staffordshire regiments. The Cheshire regiment has such a good recruitment record that it provides recruits for other regiments. The proposed amalgamation of the Cheshire regiment with the Staffordshire regiment came as a complete surprise to both regiments and neither was consulted. What about consultation? Neither regiment wants the amalgamation. In my view, those two regiments are being sacrificed for others with poor records on recruitment and retention.

The two regiments are different in style, character and interests. The amalgamation would be like merging Liverpool football club with Stoke City football club, which would be thoroughly undesirable and unrequired. The proposed amalgamation makes no sense geographic-ally or demographically. The Staffordshire regiment is a midlands regiment and the Cheshire regiment is from the north-west. The area from Merseyside to Birmingham with a population of 11 million will be left with only three regiments. That compares with Lancashire and Cumbria with a population of just 1.8 million which will retain two regiments. What a waste of the best recruiting area in the country.

It is worth noting that in their proposals and the explanations for them the Government say that we can cope with the reduction from 55 battalions to 38. I doubt that because, in my view, no commitments have changed except that for the central region and already with 55 battalions we are suffering severe overstretch. If the options plan is driven through, it will produce an Army which will be too small to meet its commitments and will suffer from more overstretch than it suffers from today, which will not be ready for its primary role because most of the units of the rapid reaction corps will be away on other tasks and duties, which will not be capable of manning all its equipment because unit establishments will be too small, which will have no reserves for the unexpected because almost all available units will be somewhere on the roulement cycle and which will no longer be a credible deterrent, even as part of NATO, because divisions and brigades will always have men away on other tasks and will never be able to train at full strength. It will be smaller and less adequate because of outdated equipment, insufficient manpower and overstretch.

It is my strongly held opinion that, because of the volatile and unpredictable world situation, the Government should announce "Options for Change" as a target, aim or objective for the future. In central and eastern Europe we are witnessing an upsurge of nationalism. Despite constructive efforts to prevent it, there is a grave danger of a return to pre-1945 power politics, and that has been mentioned by more than one hon. Member in the debate. The United Nations needs time to evolve to cope with the new world situation that it now faces. More time is needed to see how world power blocs develop and how the European Community will evolve in political and defence terms.

We are only too well aware that more resources are needed to cope with Northern Ireland. Our own resources are at a low strength, but the unexpected is always possible. We must restructure NATO, create and train the new rapid response corps and restructure our home base.

Sadly, I see the changes that the Government have proposed as a Treasury-driven exercise, perhaps a savings exercise, with little relevance to the situation that I see emerging in the world. If we proceed with the options plan, it will soon be clear that the British Army is no longer credible to meet its commitments or to deter anyone seriously because it lacks capability. The position and influence of the United Kingdom in the world, sadly, will therefore be weakened.

The dangers that I have mentioned can be avoided if the Government genuinely seek the views of the House, but to date they have not done so. We need to say that the first step towards achieving our objective is to reduce the Army to 130,000 by 1997. In the current situation, that is not insignificant. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eastleigh and my hon. Friend the Member for Davyhulme suggested that we should increase the estimate by six battalions. I fully support that request because if that were done we could meet our responsibilities and deal with any unexpected event. Any further cuts would be damaging and irresponsible.

All my research and contacts show that the Army is not against change, but it deserves a proper and detailed defence review, which has been requested by hon. Members on both sides of the House and almost all the political parties represented here. I believe that this detailed defence review, and any changes that are made, should be based on accepted and clear criteria that are understood and acceptable to all those involved. Above all, surely, it makes no sense to amalgamate regiments such as the Cheshires and the Staffordshires, which would waste recruitment opportunities. I speak with considerable conviction and commitment when I say that there is every good reason and sense to leave highly successful regiments untouched.

I wish to associate myself entirely with the petition that the hon. Member for Congleton (Mrs. Winterton) presented last night on behalf of the people of Cheshire, which urged the Government to leave the Cheshire Regiment untouched. Perhaps it is not too late for the Government genuinely to consult the House on such an important matter and to state tonight that they are prepared sensibly to consider the representations that have been made and, if necessary, to amend the decisions that they have taken.

8.15 pm
Mr. John McFall (Dumbarton)

When the Secretary of State announced more than a year ago that he would introduce "Options for Change", he said that the Army was going to be smaller but better. We now realise the truth—smaller and nothing else.

The problem is that there is no conception in the White Paper of how British forces are likely to be deployed in the future. I speak as a member of the Select Committee on Defence. When the Secretary of State appeared before the Select Committee in July, he was asked, "Whom are we defending and against what?" He had no answer.

Most of the thinking in the White Paper is based on the threat from the Soviet Union. There is still a fixation with the Soviet Union. If there were still a serious risk of war, the White Paper could be criticised for cutting things too fast and too soon, but we all know that total war is fanciful and will not happen.

The problem is the new world disorder. How will we shape our defence requirements to meet the emerging pattern of disorder in the communist states of eastern Europe and elsewhere? The problem is illustrated by the need for safe havens in Iraq and the civil war in Yugoslavia, yet the Secretary of State for Defence and his Ministers have not mentioned that. The idea of being dragged into any messy internal conflict appals the military and ourselves, but when considering a coherent and rational defence policy for the future we cannot rule out the possibility, however remote, of western troops being part of a peacekeeping force. That, however, has not been addressed. The review will be complete only when forces have been restructured to reflect the present international situation. That omission is at the heart of the White Paper.

We know that after the changes there will be no Territorial Army parachute battalion north of Liverpool. Does that make sense? The Secretary of State is retaining all three regular battalions, but eliminating the Scottish battalion. That is at odds with his declaration of an enhanced role for the TA and of a smaller but better Army.

I have several reasons for making that point. I have received 200 petitions about the volunteer battalion from constituents. More pertinent, the former Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire, a highly decorated man, Brigadier Alastair Pearson, wrote to me recently and told me that he raised that battalion in 1947 and was its first commanding officer for six and a half years. He is now its honorary colonel. He said that it would be a tragedy if the battalion were disbanded because he knows its value to the young men of Scotland and the country in general. It is illogical to eliminate that TA battalion and deny the Scottish people the opportunity to participate in it.

Those comments were reinforced by the managing director of one of the largest firms in my constituency, who wrote to the Secretary of State to explain his grievances. He said that, as a managing director, he had seen the 15th Parachute Battalion at work through its employer liaison activities—activities that had persuaded him to support the reserve forces. I suggest that the Secretary of State should reinstate that battalion. The managing director said that he was at a loss to understand the disproportionate cuts proposed for it. So are many of my constituents.

Reference has been made to Polaris nuclear submarines. Last November, I was the first to allege that there were cracks in the submarines. The Ministry of Defence pooh-poohed my view and said that there was nothing wrong. Months have passed and many newspapers have taken up the issue. The Ministry of Defence has now admitted that there are cracks.

Within the past few weeks, the Thames Television programme "This Week" described the submarines as being in trouble. One of the members of the nuclear-powered warships safety committee, which vets such submarines, said, "We are not allowing those boats into foreign ports in case accidents occur." If those boats are denied entry into foreign ports because they are a possible danger, why are they tolerated here? Is not the possible danger in the United States or some European port the same as it is at home? Questions must be asked, particularly because of the authority of the statement made on "This Week".

The Secretary of State for Defence has not explained rationally why the number of nuclear submarines has been cut from 25 to 13—I do not suggest that there is a link with the matter which I just raised. What is the real reason for the cut? My colleagues and I on the Defence Select Committee are still puzzled.

A United States committee, chaired by Sidney Drell, reported on possible faults in Trident. Members of the Defence Select Committee went to America and were given a good briefing, although questions remain. When we returned to this country, the Ministry of Defence did not explain the Drell committee's comments and said that everything was being taken care of.

"Defense Week", a United States publication, of 29 July 1991, quotes Dr. Drell as saying that the Pentagon had still to convince him and his committee. He said: We said the data was not there to make a judgement. Dr. Drell said that the matter was still open. The Defence Select Committee said that the Ministry of Defence had not explained about the cracks in the nuclear submarines and that it should he more forthcoming in public and in private. It should also explain the Drell committee's comments.

According to "Defense Week", The House fiscal 1992 defense authorization bill gave the Navy $15 million to undertake an analysis of all the Trident safety issues raised by the Drell report. I ask the Minister to do the same and undertake to make a report available either to the Defence Select Committee or to the House. That is crucial.

Locally, I am concerned also about the magnetic treatment facility at Gareloch. The Ministry of Defence gave me notice that such a facility would be erected in the Clyde area, but now the proposal has been scrapped. Dumbarton district council has written to me. It is aggrieved at the Ministry's attitude. In replying to the council's inquiry, the Ministry said that compensation was paid to the contractor. The council told me that that compensation was believed to be some £15 million and that the Ministry described it as "pennies". That expenditure is a gross waste of public money. The project had been lauded by the Ministry. It was to be an environmentally sensitive project in the Clyde area. We now find that the project has been withdrawn after £15 million of public money has been spent. That is scandalous. Dumbarton district council and the general public require answers.

Further, Dumbarton district council asked me to raise some public safety issues. The council said: As the system now to be adopted by the MOD involved the passing of strong electrical charges through the hull of submarines, there was a danger of warheads being detonated accidently as has been highlighted in the recent Drell Report". That was subjective comment by the district council. However, it is incumbent on the Ministry of Defence to undertake an inquiry so that we can debate its conclusions.

The district council also said: As dredging was taking place alongside the new berthing there could be a serious leaching of asbestos from an underground dump at the locus arising from the possible removal of a retaining wall which had been built to enclose the dump. That was the view of a district council which is made up of all political parties. The Ministry of Defence should be courteous in replying to the council on that point.

My constituents have raised the issue of empty Ministry of Defence houses. The other day, a Rhu constituent said that 30 to 40 houses were lying empty. The Ministry should undertake fruitful negotiations with the district council. The homeless of Dumbarton district, whether service people or ordinary constituents, would be better served if the houses were utilised. That is an important point.

Several of my constituents are involved in the Yarrow shipyard. One of them, the vice-convenor of the trade union side, wrote to me. Yarrow is the largest employer in Strathclyde, employing 5,000 people. The last batch of orders was lost in December 1989 and 645 people will be made redundant this December. The type 23 case for Yarrow is strong, because Yarrow designed the frigate for the Ministry of Defence, specifically to meet British needs. The yard is at a critical point.

Over the past 15 years, £55 million has been invested, £8.5 million of it in a modular construction facility, and £1.7 million on upgrading design and drafting computer graphics. The work force is skilled, with only 5 per cent. being declared unskilled. Yarrow is the largest manufacturer in Strathclyde. As the company with the largest skills base in Strathclyde, we can ill-afford it if that yard loses contracts. I make this case on behalf of my constituents and those employed by the yard, in the light of the good work that Yarrow has done in the past.

During the past year, several issues were raised before the Defence Select Committee. Will the Minister explain the continuing rationale for a United Kingdom tactical air-to-surface missile? For whom is it intended? Let me put the question simply: is it intended for use against the Poles, the Ukrainians or the Russians under Yeltsin, or is it intended for resolving regional disputes in the Balkans or for a future Saddam Hussein? I put those questions because there has been no adequate explanation of why, if there has been a de-escalation in nuclear weapons, the Government are determined to go ahead with TASM.

If the Government say that they are withdrawing TASM, they will make a crucial political point. If TASM were used, it would be indefensible in terms of the Chernobyl-style poisoning of the continent that would result, affecting innocent and guilty alike. It is said that it is intended for use on the mainland of Europe. Given the tremendous strides that have been made in nuclear disarmament in Europe, aided and abetted by Presidents Bush and Gorbachev, it ill-behoves the Government to maintain that they will go ahead. All the evidence points to the opposite conclusion from that reached by the Government.

In paragraph 322 of the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1991", the Government say that they would not support amending the partial test ban treaty because they believe that effective deterrence is necessary to prevent war", and that our nuclear weapons must be kept $ up to date. I quote two of many experts, Hans Bethe and Noris Bradbury, both former directors of the United States nuclear testing laboratory at Los Alamos. They contest the assertion that nuclear weapons need to be tested to the point of nuclear explosion. They say that it is sufficient to test all the non-nuclear components of a nuclear weapon to ensure that it will function effectively. Those critics maintain that the need to conduct nuclear explosions derives from a desire to develop new types of nuclear warheads, "third generation" weapons, including, for example, the strategic defence initiative's X-ray laser. If the intention is simply to maintain assured nuclear deterrence, nuclear test explosions are not essential. Again, the Government should be making a big political point by supporting the treaty.

Another issue is the United Nations arms register. It is an important point which the Government should take on board. In the past year or two, we have seen increasing, perhaps exponential, arms sales to the middle east and to Africa. Recently, I looked up the table of third-world countries that received arms in the past 15 years. Eight out of the top 10 are in the middle east. Despite the Gulf war, and despite the presence of Saddam Hussein, we are still going ahead with selling those weapons. We need a firm United Nations arms register which is not just post hoc, as it is at the moment, but which should include details of arms production as well as transfer, and for which there should be a United Nations verification agency. It is extremely important that we have that.

For one reason or another, in the past 10 years we have seen a dramatic failure of our foreign policy. The Government have had to go to war twice—the Falklands and the Gulf. Twice we have sent troops abroad to fight an enemy who is equipped with British, western and European hardware—among them French Mirages and British destroyers. That is unacceptable. The Government should go ahead with the comprehensive test ban treaty, with the United Nations arms register and with all the major political gestures that I mentioned so that we do not have to send British troops anywhere in the world in vain a third time.

8.31 pm
Sir Charles Morrison (Devizes)

The collapse of the Warsaw pact, the main cause and main objective of defence policy and defence expenditure since the pact was signed, has, without doubt, created a real and hoped for opportunity for savings on defence. However, it is worth noting and may be salutary to recall that it was the continuing and growing cost of defence and sophisticated modern weaponry, and the effect of that on the economy of the USSR, apart from the firm stance of NATO, which ultimately led to the break-up of the Warsaw pact.

Be that as it may, British defence expenditure over the past 45 years has helped to achieve the main objective of removing the threat from the Soviet bloc. None the less, that does not mean that worldwide peace has broken out, nor that global stability holds sway. In some ways, there is more instability now, stemming from the fragmentation of the Soviet empire, than there was when there was an obvious and controlled bloc in our view.

That point was made by the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey), although I have to admit that I was somewhat bemused by his speech. I am sorry that he is not in his place now. He started by deploring, very properly, inadequate preparation for warfare prior to 1939. He then went on to talk about instability and ended by saying that we should cut our expenditure still more. That would be a strange attitude in the light of the world scene.

Yugoslavia may not be unique. No one can foretell what developments there will be in the Russian republics. Elsewhere, the middle east is hardly a haven of happiness and joy. In many parts of the world, strife is only just below the surface, and here at home we still have the major responsibility of Northern Ireland. In that regard especially, whatever sophisticated weaponry we may have, it is literally soldiers on the ground who are most important. Yet it is now that it is proposed that the Army should be cut by 25 per cent.

Just after the Falklands, I congratulated the then Secretary of State for Defence on the outcome. His reply was to the effect, "Do not congratulate me; congratulate the armed forces for their remarkable ability to improvise." Improvisation and a little luck on the part of the armed forces have probably got this country out of many a scrape. However, situations can develop only too easily in which that is impossible, and in which the Army is overstretched to breaking point. In a world that continues to be dangerous, the Government must err on the side of caution. A cut of 25 per cent. does not reflect that, so my first point is that the cuts go too far, too fast and too soon.

My second point involves the nature of the cuts. In his statement on 23 July, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said that they required painful choices and difficult decisions."—[Official Report, 23 July 1991, Vol. 195, c. 1038.] My right hon. Friend has never spoken a truer word, and I sympathise with him on the dilemmas that he faced.

In my county there is anguish that the Duke of Edinburgh's regiment, already an amalgamation, is to be amalgamated again. We have heard again and again m the course of the debate that elsewhere the anguish is repeated. In Scotland, there is a crescendo of rage and frustration.

I will refer especially to the Household Division. At a time of change, there is no reason why the regiments that the Household Division contains should be exempt from change, but as there is change, it must be remembered that those regiments have a dual role, first, as fighting regiments and, secondly, in respect of London ceremonial and public duties to which my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) properly referred. All informed opinion is that there will have to be cuts in London ceremonial and pageantry if the proposed cuts go ahead. Such a consequence would be a result of an incredibly short-sighted view of London ceremonial by the Ministry of Defence.

The English tourist board has told me that the value of overseas tourism in London is £4.3 billion per annum. According to a recent survey, almost half of all those visitors want to see some aspect of London ceremonial. Even if the changing of the guard is retained, other forms of ceremonial, such as the Tower Guard, will go and even the trooping the colour will be at risk, reducing enormously the tourist attraction of London in comparison with many other cities either in the United Kingdom or, more importantly, elsewhere in the world, especially in Europe.

It is difficult to persuade oneself that the proposed changes to the Household Cavalry and Foot Guards have been properly thought through. It is far easier to convince oneself that they have not.

The Blues and Royals were amalgamated only a few years ago and that amalgamation proved to be a great success. On this occasion, the Life Guards would have been very happy with an outward amalgamation. That would have retained two Household Cavalry service regiments from which to assign men to the mounted squadrons in London. Instead, there is to be an anomalous two-cap-badge service regiment, and it is generally believed that that regiment will have insufficient men to train for and to sustain the mounted ceremonial squadrons in London. In short, the proposals for the Household Cavalry Regiment combined or amalgamated—however one refers to it—are impractical.

An outward amalgamation for the Life Guards is apparently now impossible, but I understand that it is proposed that there should be a corps reconnaissance regiment in the Territorial Army. Much as I admire the Territorial Army, which will be debated later in the year, or early next year, I question whether the provision of such a regiment is an appropriate role for it. Surely a reconnaissance regiment—above all at corps level—should be immediately available to the corps commander as reconnaissance should precede any action. It is unlikely that the TA could provide such immediacy. Surely the role should be filled by a regular regiment. If that point is conceded, it seems to me that that regular regiment should be the senior cavalry regiment of the British Army—the Life Guards.

On 18 September, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces wrote to me in reply to a letter that I wrote to the Secretary of State on 8 August about the planned changes in the Household Division. My right hon. Friend said: the concept of the combined regiments originated from the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals themselves". If I may say so, that is bunk—and that is putting it mildly. My right hon. Friend went on to say that the combined regiment is seen by all concerned as the best way forward for the two original regiments". I do not know who are the "all concerned" to whom my right hon. Friend has spoken. They are none of the "all concerned" to whom I have spoken, and they are certainly not past or present members of the regiments affected.

On the other hand, my right hon. Friend also said that the basic structure of the new Household Cavalry combined armoured reconnaissance regiment would consist of four squadrons. As I understand it, that means four sabre squadrons plus one headquarters squadron—that is, five squadrons. I then asked my right hon. Friend what the comparison was between that regiment—the new regiment to be formed—and the other new regiment to be formed from the 13th/18th Royal Hussars and the 15th/19th King's Royal Hussars, and whether they would be similar to the Life Guards and Blues and Royals regiments. In his reply, my right hon. Friend said that the new combined 13th/18th and 15th/19th regiment will also fulfil the armoured reconnaissance role and will do so with four squadrons. I suppose that, again, that means five squadrons. I seek an assurance from my right hon. Friend that that is correct. If it is, what it actually means is that the two armoured reconnaissance regiments between them will have 10 squadrons—eight sabre squadrons and two headquarters squadrons. It would not be stretching things too far to have a regular corps reconnaissance regiment, which I mentioned just now, and to have the other two regiments revert to their normal size. We should then have three regiments, each of which would have four squadrons, making up 12 squadrons all told. In other words, there would be an addition of only two squadrons over and above what the Ministry of Defence is currently planning. I hope that my right hon. Friend will consider that point again.

Meanwhile, whereas the Army is to be cut by 25 per cent., the three senior Foot Guard regiments are to be cut by 50 per cent., as my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh has already said. The overall cuts in the five regiments of the Foot Guards amount to 37.5 per cent. I am also told that the retention of only five battalions instead of eight makes the Foot Guards arms plot—the movement of battalions between London and operational tasks outside it—impossible to manage. Thus there is no hope of giving guardsmen sufficient variety as between their London duties and their duties outside, and that is almost certain to have a very serious effect on recruiting. It seems to me that that is an odd way to sustain what are arguably the finest regiments in the British Army. Therefore, I implore my right hon. Friend to review his cuts and the way in which they are being imposed.

8.44 pm
Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

I was a signatory of an amendment to the defence estimates which, tragically, has not been selected and will therefore not be voted on later this evening. I shall nevertheless try to express the view behind it. We are asked to approve defence estimates involving 4 per cent. of gross national product. Nearly £24 billion is due to be spent by this country on defence. I support a position which would lead to a substantial cut in arms expenditure at least to the European average. That alone would release £7.5 billion. The money could be well spent initially on financing arms conversion so that those working in defence industries are not thrown on to the jobs scrap heap. It could also be used to expand and improve health services, education and housing, and to deal with the myriad social problems afflicting people in Britain.

I also think that we should look at things on a wider world scale. I quote from "World Military and Social Expenditures 1991" by Ruth Legar Sevard. She and many other colleagues have put together a series of statistics related to the problems facing the world which show that 100 million people are homeless, 900 million are illiterate, nearly 1 billion are chronically underfed and a further 1 billion are certainly suffering from malnourishment. We cannot be satisfied with a world afflicted with so many problems if all that we are doing is to pile on it ever-increasing amounts of arms expenditure.

Britain has suffered from the cold war. Like many other hon. Members, my experience of growing up was dominated by the cold war. Those of us who advocated unilateral nuclear disarmament throughout that period were always told that it was absolutely impossible. Yet unilateral action is what has been taken by Gorbachev and Bush—and it has met with a response: there has been a significant reduction in the number of intercontinental ballistic missiles and a stand-off of many of the more locally ranged nuclear weapons. That unilateral action has had a considerable impact.

We must also assess what we shall be doing from now on. I never believed that NATO was a particularly necessary organisation because I did not accept that NATO represented more than a hot pursuit of cold war. Surely now is the time not for a reassessment of NATO to give it a political, and an increased out-of-area, role, but for the disbanding of NATO—an end to a military alliance that has cost so much and damaged so much of the social infrastructure of countries that are its members. The Warsaw pact has gone and I hear military planners say, "Where is the threat now? Why must we keep nuclear weapons?" Nuclear weapons are supposed to be a deterrent, but they have not prevented wars from taking place in central America. They did not stop the Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf war or the numerous other wars that have taken place around the world—wars in which 20 million people have died since 1945.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

They are still dying in Iraq. According to the university of Illinois, kids in Iraq are dying at a rate of 500 a day. Does not that infringe the 1989 international protocol on children and protocol 1 of the 1977 agreement on human rights?

Mr. Corbyn

I thank my hon. Friend for his intervention. I shall come to the situation in Iraq in a moment and I shall respond then to the point that he made.

I have a question to ask those who now advocate that we should continue to hold nuclear weapons and those who advocate the construction of the Trident submarine. At the moment, there are 51,000 nuclear warheads in the world. There have been 1,814 nuclear tests since 1945, all of which have resulted in some degree of fallout and all of which have caused illness and harm. The serious nuclear explosion at Chernobyl will cause 2,000 deaths from cancer across northern Europe. The use of nuclear weapons is absolutely inconceivable and that was described graphically by Bruce Kent at a meeting that I attended recently. He said that firing a nuclear weapon was like firing a rifle containing two bullets: one which comes out of the barrel and the other which comes out of the back of the rifle and shoots the rifle holder through the head. That is the logic of nuclear weapons.

According to the defence estimates the Trident submarine programme is due to cost £9.8 billion. I deplore that and I believe that the programme should be stopped. I would like to think that on the first day that a Labour Government take office they will immediately cancel the fourth Trident submarine and deCommission the other three.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

My hon. Friend should be careful with his figures. They refer to the production cost. They do not take into account the through-life costs, which are double that figure.

Mr. Corbyn

I have obviously understated the case because I am cautious.

Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)

I have a press release from Greenpeace which states that the cost of Trident is in excess of £23 billion. That comprises the Government's capital cost of £9.8 billion with an additional £2.5 billion of identifiable capital costs and lifetime and decommis-sioning costs of another £10.67 billion. That amounts to more than £23 billion. That is the true cost of Trident.

Mr. Corbyn

We would do better to spend £23 billion feeding the world's hungry and to prevent the preventable deaths of young children around the world instead of constructing a nuclear missile system. We could also release the undoubted technical brilliance of many of the people who design and build those submarines and allow them to do something much more useful.

I make no apology for the fact that throughout my adult life I have been a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I intend to continue to be a CND member because I want a nuclear-free world and significantly less to be spent on armaments than is being spent at the moment. We cannot continue to be blind to the realities in the rest of the world and to spend such huge amounts on high technology armaments.

The defence estimates produce significant cuts in the number of soldiers, sailors and Air Force personnel. However, they envisage enormous expenditure on high technology weapons. We urgently need an arms conversion programme. We also need real action to eliminate the arms trade, which is the most bloodthirsty trade in the world. Between 1968 and 1988, $588 billion worth of arms were exported, many of them to repressive regimes, and many of the weapons were used to repress people who were demanding social justice for themselves. I hope that we can end the arms trade once and for all.

I refer now to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell). I visited Kurdistan in August as a guest of the Kurdistan Front. I was struck by the beauty of the place and also by the stench of death that hangs over the country. That stench does not stem simply from the Gulf war—appalling as everything to do with that war has been. I did not support the war and I have not changed my opinions in that regard. The stench emanated also from the Iran-Iraq war.

I visited a scrap metal yard beside the road where various people were trying to make a little money by selling bits of scrap. When I looked at the markings on the shell cases that they were selling, I saw that they came from China, the Soviet Union, the United States, Israel, South Africa, Brazil, arid from other places all over the world. We can imagine the arms manufacturers and dealers who had made a fortune out of the killing in that war.

I visited a hill on which possibly 100,000 people died in the war of attrition between Iran and Iraq. Kurdish conscripts on one side fought Kurdish conscripts on the other and one useless advance followed another, just like the battles in the first world war when the generals had the same mentality. That again was a product of the arms trade. Western Europe was quite happy to lend money to both sides throughout the Iran-Iraq war and happy to make profits out of that awful war. At the end of the day, a foreign policy initiative must be taken.

The Gulf war has not yet produced a solution to the problems in the region. The Palestinians do not have a homeland, the Gulf is polluted and the oil fires are still burning. The Kurdish people do not have security or peace. In fact, the Turkish air force is now attacking Kurdish positions in Iraq. I visited the village of Xerezok a week after it was bombed by the Turkish air force. It was claimed that the village was a Turkish PKK base. It was not. It was a village of 20 families who had returned to their homes after being driven out by Saddam's force two years ago. They had returned to plant crops, build a school and live there. One day a helicopter flew over and they waved to it because they thought that it was bringing them medicines and food. It flew a few miles from the village and American-built jet fighters screamed over the hill and bombed the village with phosphorus bombs which are still there and are still live. The children, however, are dead and are buried in a graveyard alongside a wheat field.

I am led to believe that the coalition forces are operating air security. I cannot believe that Turkish air force planes are taking off without the knowledge—and if it is with the knowledge, it must be with the agreement —of the United States and British military personnel in the region. If they are taking off without their knowledge and agreement, what is the agreement with Turkey all about? If they are taking off with the agreement of the British and Americans, that is a disgusting spectacle. People who have suffered enough over the past 70 years should not be expected to suffer any more.

In the southern part of Iraq I spoke to a fine person from the Quaker peace mission who had spent three months in Iraq. He had no brief for Saddam Hussein, for the Ba'ath party or for the repression. However, he identified the arms sales to Saddam and the loans and support that he received which made him the strong man that he is while children die because of a lack of food and medicine. For humanity's sake, we should consider the needs of those people as they die in that region.

Wars are basically caused by instability, which arises because of inequality and poverty. Are we going to continue to export arms to corrupt regimes to repress people who demand social justice? Are we going to continue to deny the Palestinians, the Kurds and so many others what we want for ourselves—the right to self-determination and the ability to live a decent life?

Tonight we will sleep in beds and go home without feeling hungry. That will not be the case for millions of people elsewhere. Children will be dying and we are allowing the arms race to continue, the arms stockpiles to grow and the vast expenditure on high-tech weapons to continue when that brilliance could be used to give people a decent standard of living instead of the fear of yet another war.

8.56 pm
Mr. Michael Colvin (Romsey and Waterside)

While I accept the principle of the restructuring of our armed forces to take account of the peace dividend, I, like many hon. Members in this debate, question the wisdom of reducing the Army by 40,000 to only 116,000 personnel. That is too much and it is too soon.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said yesterday that, as a result of international events and reorganisation, the infantry's commitment would be one third less. That may be so in peacetime, but what about in wartime? I am not surprised that the word "overstretch" is used most in criticism of my right hon. Friend's proposals. Thirty-eight battalions may be enough in peacetime—I doubt it—but they will not preserve the peace unless they are also seen to be enough in wartime.

The heaviest flak directed at the Government Front Bench has been on infantry regimental reorganisation. I can understand why. The scrapping of years of history and tradition is an emotional matter because of the damage which it can do to identity, kinship, morale and, of course, as a result, recruitment. My right hon. Friend intends to amalgamate the Royal Hampshire regiment with the Queen's regiment, to form one regiment of two battalions. We in Hampshire cannot understand why we cannot keep the two regiments at one battalion strength each. I should like an answer to that point.

Neither the Royal Hampshire regiment, about 90 per cent. of which comprises Hampshire men, nor the Queen's regiment, which has long lost any county identity, is happy about the proposed merger. However, if the merger proceeds, the new regiment must be a true partnership and not a takeover by the Queen's regiment, which currently has three battalions. We want the Hampshire name to be retained in the name of the new regiment and its emblem to be retained in the cap badge and other insignia. By preserving two separate regiments we will not save an additional battalion for the British Army—more is the pity —but the Army Board should have another think about the proposed amalgamation.

Ministers repeatedly refer to the need for our forces to be flexible and mobile to fulfil our new commitment to NATO and elsewhere. I welcome the creation of NATO's new rapid reaction corps, led, as it will be, by Britain, which will contribute an air mobile brigade and, perhaps, an airborne brigade. Our aim is clear but our method is not, which is why I now refer to air transport—tactical and strategic, helicopters and fixed wing.

Since I last raised the subject of support helicopters for the Army we have had time to assess our operations in the Gulf war, when more than half our total support helicopter force was deployed to support only one armoured division—that is, one fifth of our Army—and still the numbers had to be made up by pinching 18 Sea Kings from the Royal Navy. We intend to dedicate only 35 Gazelles and Lynx to our solitary Air Mobile Brigade, while American, French or German equivalent formations would have about 100 mixed attack, reconnaissance and transport helicopters. "Air mobile" is hardly the right name for a military formation which looks as though it may have the greatest difficulty in leaving the ground.

I support the Defence Select Committee's view that the Secretary of State must stop prevaricating and confirm the order for 25 EH101 utility support helicopters, which was first placed as long ago as April 1987.

Longer-haul air transport is provided by our 62 Hercules C130 aircraft. Purchased from the United States more than 20 years ago, they will need to be replaced in the mid-1990s. In the meantime, Marshalls of Cambridge do a superb job keeping them flying. What is the Government's thinking about a replacement? I refer to the improved Lockheed C130J, for which Lockheed would welcome British partners. British Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, Dowty, Lucas, GEC and Marconi are bidding to join a consortium. If the time scale is good, the aircraft would be ready at the right time. We want our companies to have a share in the development of that aircraft so that we can benefit from its sale to third countries.

What is the Ministry of Defence thinking in terms of the future large aircraft, or the so-called FLA, which was proposed by the Euroflag group? The problem is that it will be expensive. It may involve European countries; but it will not be ready until the year 2003. Because of our commitment to the rapid reaction corps we need an answer to that question.

Another replacement that will be needed in the late 1990s will be for our Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft. Again, the choice is between a United States aircraft and a European: the modified P3 Orion from Lockheed, because the P7 was cancelled, and the French Atlantique. Hon. Members would like to hear what the Government have to say about that.

The White Paper tries to explain how service personnel and those who are being made redundant can join the property owning democracy, one of the great achievements of the 12 years of Conservative Government. The Government's task force is studying options for extending the right to buy, in conjunction with the Housing Corporation and the voluntary housing movement. I hope that the scheme will be flexible. Retiring military personnel may not want to buy or live the rest of their lives in their military quarters, even if they are allowed to buy. We need a flexible scheme with swapping arrangements with local housing authorities so that military personnel can retire where they want to set up their homes.

The Government should liaise closely with the Royal British Legion on housing and on resettlement courses. I question whether a 28-day resettlement course is adequate to prepare an ex-service man for a civilian career.

My constituency contains many married quarters. In all, the Ministry of Defence owns 96,000 married quarters and rents a further 25,000 overseas. That means that it has a total of 121,000 married quarters, yet there are only 28,000 married personnel. I know that many of those quarters are occupied by civilians, but there is obviously a surplus of military accommodation which should be disposed of so that it can be put to greater use. My constituency has a crying need for more of what I would term "social housing" for homeless families. Perhaps the Ministry of Defence could think about leasing some of its surplus accommodation, especially housing that is in need of repair, to the local authorities to help them to deal with their pressing needs.

There have been many references to the future of the Household brigade, and especially to the Foot Guards, three battalions of which will go into so-called "suspended animation"—whatever that may mean. The Foot Guards perform their operational and ceremonial duties in an exemplary fashion and succeed in combining both duties with great skill. That variety has always been of immense value, but given that they are stationed in the centre of London, they have a third role to play. It relates to the security of the capital of our country. They are here to deal with the unexpected. As has already been said, they will be stretched in trying to combine their ceremonial duties with their operational role and there could be a case——

Sir Nicholas Bonsor (Upminster)

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Colvin

I am afraid that I cannot because I am watching the clock.

There could be a case for including the Foot Guards in our air mobile force so that they could be lifted in and out of central London by helicopters—provided that we have the helicopters that we all want.

In conclusion, despite the criticism from the Back Benches and the calls for Ministers to think again, the defence of the realm is still as safe in Conservative hands as it would be unsafe in the hands of a Labour Government whose only firm commitment would be to lop £6,000 million off the defence budget.

9.7 pm

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

I do not know whether it is any comfort to Ministers, but, in candour, and as one who comes from the recruiting area of the Royal Scots, in my judgment it is sensible to merge the King's Own Scottish Borderers with the Royal Scots. I hope that the two regiments will enjoy the success of other amalgamations.

In view of the time constraints, I shall put my speech in question form.

First, hon. Members seem to assume that the Gulf war was a success, but 4.5 million children are suffering in Iraq and are dying at the rate of 500 a day. Those are the figures produced by the University of Illinois. There are horrifying stories from the Quakers and Jim Fine, from Oxfam and Mark Turpin, and from Critical Eye who have returned from the area.

Therefore, I should like to ask the Minister the following questions about sanctions.

What is the legal position in the committing of the international crime of genocide in violation of the international convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide of 1948?

The second question is also legal: what is the position in relation to the universal declaration of human rights of 1948, which this country has signed?

Thirdly, what is the position in relation to the 1989 convention on the rights of the child, which this country has signed?

Fourthly, what is the legal position about the systematic violation of the special protection of international humanitarian law that was guaranteed to children by the fourth Geneva convention and the additional protocol of 1977? It is reported that the conditions for children are inhuman, degrading, cruel and genocidal. We must distinguish between the humanitarian problems and any other problems that may exist which I do not have time to go into relating to chemical, biological and, indeed, nuclear weapons. The bombing of Tuweitha should at least be monitored for radioactivity.

What is the Government's position on the termination of the international economic embargo and all forms of bilateral economic sanctions? Massive humanitarian relief is needed. That is not only the opinion of my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and several others on the Labour Back Benches but the considered judgment of the most senior officials of the United Nations who in name were responsible for organising the force that went to the Gulf.

Precisely what is the Government's attitude to the problems that have been clearly identified and the need to raise some of the sanctions on Iraqi oil sales, identified in particular by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan? We as members of the United Nations are going against precisely some of the assessments that the United Nations has made. Do the Government accept those UN reports or do they not?

9.11 pm
Dr. John Reid (Motherwell, North)

Debates such as this always engender in me a certain amount of humility at not only the learning and academic knowledge but the practical experience that hon. Members on both sides bring to them. It is utterly impossible to cover all the points raised by all those who have spoken tonight but perhaps I can mention one or two.

The hon. Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) brought a great depth of knowledge and practical experience to the debate. He dealt with the problems of the Merchant Navy and its decline and with the Territorial Army, which has been mentioned by several other hon. Members.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey) always graces us with his presence on these occasions and it always turns out to be worthwhile. He showed a great deal of insight and gave valued advice on the arms trade, arms production and the role of the United Nations. Above all, he dealt with the definition or redefinition of security—an issue which was patently missing from the speeches made by Ministers but about which I hope to say something tonight.

The hon. Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) pointed out that he had called for a review. He showed that all wisdom is not monopolised on this side of the House. He also questioned the validity of Falklands defence.

My hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) pointed out the lack of strategy in the course pursued by the Government, the overstretch and the importance of cap badges. He also gave us the view from Nepal, following a visit there, on the decimation of the Gurkhas. The point was raised by several other hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson), who usually brings his wisdom on these matters to such debates.

The hon. Members for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Boscawen) and for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) all criticised, and they were by no means exclusive, the depth of cuts in the infantry. That is another issue which I shall mention tonight.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) and the hon. Member for Newark (Mr. Alexander) dwelt on an issue which we have perhaps passed over too lightly on these occasions. They spoke about the personal problems of housing, homelessness and redundancy faced by service men and women.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Attercliffe (Sir P. Duffy) usefully pointed out the complexity of the new risks and the absolute necessity for complexity of response. He mentioned the key role of NATO and the dangers of overstretch and, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall), he raised some serious questions about the number of infantry battalions that have been cut. My hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton was the only Member to ask serious questions about the safety of nuclear submarines. The hon. and learned Member for Perth and Kinross (Sir N. Fairbairn), in a speech which I think we call spirited on these occasions, referred in almost biblical language to the four fallacies of Ministers. He gave a sterling defence of the Scottish regiments and condemned the ill-thought-out action and obstinacy of Ministers. [Interruption.] I see that he is now in his place. The debate has been worthwhile if only to see the broad front constituted by the hon. and learned Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway), who last night spoke in similar spirited language in defence of the Scottish regiments.

The one thing that every contributor had in common was an attempt to deal with change. There are periods in history when the rate of change alters dramatically. It is always difficult to know, except in retrospect, when that rate of change goes from what mathematicians would call the arithmetical to the geometrical progression, or what philosophers would call from the quantitative to the qualitative change. That is the nature of the type of analysis that we are all trying to undertake. As I have said, it is easier in retrospect.

Hegel, who, may I say for the benefit of Tory Members, was a German philosopher, said that the owl of Minerva spreads his wings only at the coming of the dusk. Unlike mathematicians and philosophers, we are not detached observers of these changes; we are participants in them. We hope that we are active participants.

Although this is difficult, there is widespread recognition that we are living in one of those periods of history that future generations will look back on and perhaps even give the nomenclature "revolutionary". It is a watershed. The continent of Europe, which for most of the post-war period appeared to be on the brink of disaster, now appears to be on the brink of lasting peace. Whether in retrospect we shall be praised by future generations for taking the challenge of those opportunities —[Interruption.]—or whether we shall be condemned— [Interruption.] If the Minister does not stop interrupting me, I may give him what we in Glasgow call Harthill Latin and I shall explain to him later what that is. As he is now being courteous enough to keep quiet, I shall continue. Whether we shall be condemned for having missed that opportunity or praised for taking it remains to be seen. Either way, it is important for all those involved in the debate about the future of European and global security to be aware of the burden which is being placed on all our shoulders.

The burden has been placed most particularly on the shoulders of Ministers. Sadly, they have proven incapable of shaping up to the task. [Interruption.] I expected more of the Secretary of State and his Ministers, given their previous relish in playing defenders of the realm and their much-vaunted military background. I thought that we would get a little of the three Cs—control, command and communication. Instead, we have had from the Secretary of State the three Ds—dozing, dithering and debilitation. He seems incapable of facing up to the challenges. During the whole debate his only firm promise has been, "We will not change our mind. There will not be a review." He had better the Secretary of State for Scotland. Last night, when the Secretary of State for Scotland was questioned about the regiments, in particular whether the Government had decided, whether there would be a change and whether there would be a review—this appeared in this morning's Glasgow Herald—he said that these things are produced every year and over the next two or three years I have no doubt that the decisions announced by Tom King will be reviewed. As I said, the rate of change has gone from arithmetical to geometrical.

I have news for the Secretary of State for Scotland. Tom King, whom he quoted there, will not be Secretary of State for Defence for the next two or three years, so if there is any review it will be carried out by—[HON. MEMBERS: "Bill Walker."]

Mr. Bill Walker (Tayside, North)

I believe that the hon. Gentleman is one of the more articulate members of the Opposition Front-Bench team and what he says frequently makes sense. Can he now tell us what is the Labour party's position on defence, because we have waited for all of two days to find out and I am still waiting?

Dr. Reid

Let me be absolutely straight. It has been said before, We do not have the advice which is available in Government from professional advisers; we do not know what the world situation … will be when we come to office; and before acting we should want to consult our allies. That is not my quote; it is from "The Right Approach" published by the Conservative Central Office prior to the election in 1979.

We intend to go further than the Conservatives. We are going public and we have told everyone in the House that we will have a full defence review within the first year of a Labour Government. If hon. Members require further elucidation they should refer to the expansive section of our policy that was dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) last night. [Interruption.] I note that the Secretary of State is attempting to interrupt with the courage derived from the collective ministerial enclave around him.

Although I may criticise the Secretary of State, it must be said that he has received little help from his Ministers. Last night we had a marvellous statement from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement which covered interesting defence matters such as the environment and the citizens charter. At one stage I thought that local government finance would be mentioned, but the only news we got last night was that we are to charter a boat from the Norwegians. That exciting new concept of rent-a-navy was slipped in at the end of the debate.

The much-vaunted speech today from the Minister of State for Defence Procurement was supposed to give us all the announcements heralded by the Secretary of State. However, as far as I understand it, his speech amounted to an order for a project design for Fearless and Intrepid at some stage in the near future with some further announcement to be made next March.

The Minister of State, for the Armed Forces, who is to speak after me, is to speak about matters affecting personnel. I do not intend to pre-empt his remarks and I trust that the trailer of his speech, which suggests that he will deal with the great problem of housing for the armed services, is correct. I would welcome some move on that. In July, when I questioned the right hon. Gentleman about it, no action had been taken and therefore I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will make a statement of substance tonight.

The Minister, whether on the issue of housing, compensation or post-traumatic stress disorder—eventu-ally the Minister was good enough to see me and to take action on that—makes a rod for his own back by having to be dragged, reluctantly, to deal with such issues. At the end of the day he does deals with them but he does himself a disservice by appearing reluctant to do so. That creates the type of confusion and bitterness that arose at various times during the calls for compensation for those unfortunate soldiers who lost their legs.

The Secretary of State has given us the slogan "smaller but better". I understand that in the civil service—I have heard this third hand only because the civil service and the Ministry of Defence do not leak—that slogan is better known as "smaller now, better at some stage in the indefinite future". In "Options for Change" the Government managed to combine change without options, conclusions without military analysis, restructur-ing without review and an end without a strategy—all in the same package. In the process the Government have managed to combine in opposition to them the opposition parties, the defence industry, the British armed forces. the public and their Back Benchers, not to mention the Select Committee.

It would take a politician of tremendous ingenuity starting off from a position of strength to manage to fight on five fronts in the same political war. The Secretary of State, however, has managed to do that. He has built the broadest front in opposition to him of anyone in Parliament. Perhaps that is because, as the Select Committee pointed out, the Government just do not have a strategy. The nearest that they came to it was last night in three paragraphs of the Secretary of State's speech. That speech came 18 months after the Government started the process of restructuring and six months after they finished that process.

What sort of Government is it who first make the changes and only then analyse the reasons for the changes? That is not strategic thinking; it is ex-post-facto rationalisation. If we are talking about strategy, the basis from which we should have been operating all this time, the threat from the east, which has traditionally been defined in terms of intention and capability, has all but disappeared. Admittedly that threat may not have disappeared on the flanks and there is a problem about the dispersal of the control of nuclear weapons, but the conventional threat from the east has all but disappeared.

In its place, the very process of Soviet imperial disintegration which has reduced the traditional threat has given rise to new risks and problems. They include ethnic tensions, nationalisms, border disputes, the resurgence of historic antagonisms, forced and voluntary migration and terrorism—and that is only in eastern and central Europe.

It is in the context of that redefined threat or risk that we need a redefinition of security, the point made earlier by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, East. There must be a much wider definition of security than defence proper. The increased complexity of the problem requires an increased complexity of response. Security must now include political contact and dialogue, economic aid and military hardware.

As for defence proper, being the pure military element of that security, the nature of the task confronting us— intervention, peace-keeping and mobility included—rath-er than diminishing the case for infantry, enhances it out of all proportion. Had there been a strategic review analysing the threat before we began restructuring the British armed forces, the infantry battalions would have been in a much better position, bolstered not by ideology or history or even by local support, but by the nature of the threat and the roles that we wished the armed forces to carry out.

Mr. George Walden (Buckingham)

I am impressed by the vigour that the hon. Gentleman is showing in the defence of this country now that the main threat to the country has passed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap".] It was necessary for me to make that extremely important point. Outside the middle east, can the hon. Gentleman be more precise about from where in his perception the threat to Britain will come in the reasonably near future?

Dr. Reid

The people I represent and the communities in my part of the world are the very people who for centuries have given their lives in the defence of Britain. If anyone has strategically sold out this country, from the Philbys, Blunts and Burgesses, they have been people from the hon. Gentleman's background rather than from my background.

In answering his substantive question, may I say that I referred to eastern and central Europe and anarchic disintegration. Later I shall refer to some of the more global issues with which he may be concerned. First, I wish to deal with regimental restructuring. I have explained why I think the infantry battalions would have come off better. How can I respect a speech from a Secretary of State who says that the big lesson of the Gulf war is that logistics are important? If the Romans had known that, they could have conquered an empire. I am glad at least to see that the Secretary of State, 2000 years after Caesar, has independently reached the same conclusion. How can I take him seriously?

Several Hon. Members


Dr. Reid

We are very tight for time and I am anxious to make progress.

Perhaps the prime example of the incompetence of the Government has been in terms of regimental restructuring. We urged them not to proceed without a review. I asked the Minister of State for the Armed Forces to publish the criteria. Nobody will be popular if regiments are being closed down, but at least the decision can be seen to be open and based on military criteria. It would have been defensible. But the Minister refused to do that, so no wonder he was inundated with angry lobbyists yesterday, for people do now know the basis on which some regiments are being executed and others reprieved. No wonder they suspect that decisions are being based on Treasury or local political considerations.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers) today outlined the Government's abysmal incompetence in relation to the whole question of procurement. Anyone who has read successive Select Committee reports will know that the Government's procurement policy can probably be summed up in three words: oversight, overdue or overbudget. That has been the Select Committee story for the past few years.

It seems that the British armed forces have been supplied with a dearth of almost everything except excuses. I find this incredible. I see that the Secretary of State is protesting. I am sure that it is not entirely his fault that we have a new class of submarine whose missile doors cannot be opened without flooding, and Tornados that have to go around with cement in their nose cones because they have no radar; I am sure that it is not entirely his fault that the budget has been exceeded by £21,000 million. He must, however, take some of the responsibility. All we have had are excuses. I am expecting a statement from the right hon. Gentleman any day now, telling us that cavalry supplies have been cut to one spur apiece on the ground that, if the men can get one side of the horse going, the other side will probably follow. That is the kind of logic that we have had from the right hon. Gentleman.

Is it not ironic that the Secretary of State is prepared to applaud the United States for assisting its industry to diversify? The right hon. Gentleman is not only doing that, however; he is playing an active role. Last night, he boasted from the Dispatch Box about the role that we are playing in helping the Russians to diversify. When it comes to the British industry, however, that can diversify on its own. No wonder the British industrial leaders involved in defence have not received so much as a postcard until this week. We learnt from the Minister of State for Defence Procurement tonight that he has now sent them a letter, but until then they had been given no assistance whatever.

Diversification is important not merely to jobs. If we want to control the arms export trade from Britain, it is no good simply passing pious resolutions in Europe. We shall have to ensure that the arms production and export sales processes are also tackled by means of diversification.

The tragedy of this litany of lost opportunities is not just that they are bad for the morale of the Conservative party. I have done what I could—over the interruptions from the Minister of State for Defence Procurement—to raise the Conservatives' morale, and to show them the lighter side of what their Ministers are doing. However, the position is also disastrous for the morale and future of the British armed forces and the British nation. The result of this ministerial incompetence is twofold: overstretch at home and lack of effectiveness abroad.

That overstretch has always been there. We know now that Operation Granby was mounted only through the superhuman effort of our service men and women, not only during but before the Gulf war. Every second tank in Germany was used to provide spares for the other tanks that went with the armoured division. Only under the present Government could our troops be asked to behave like demented Kwik-Fit fitters on the eve of a battle in the desert, running about shifting parts from one tank to another.

The Secretary of State's cuts will make the position even worse. As neither his Back Benchers nor I can convince him about the overstretch, let me recommend a book to him—not a library or a bibliography, but a single book. If he finds that too taxing, the Ministers can take a chapter each. The book, by Paul Kennedy, is called "The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers". It explains the terrible cost of retaining an imperial defence mentality when resources no longer merit it, and cannot be provided for it. Overstretch breaks the social contracts with our recruits.

As for arms control and nuclear de-escalation, while the Americans are dealing with the Russians to reduce the strategic deterrent, the British Government are increasing that deterrent. The Americans are cancelling SRAM-T, but, although NATO has put it on the back burner, the Secretary of State is convinced that we must go ahead with the tactical air-to-surface missile. The Secretary of State is doing nothing about substantial arms control and de-escalation. He is swimming against the tide of history.

Active, leading participation in all these areas has been abrogated by the Secretary of State for Defence. He lacks confidence. He is more at home with the comforting certainties of the old cold war. The Secretary of State displayed his lack of confidence and understanding last night when he gave the reason for the failure of the Soviet coup as incompetence. Incompetent it was, but anyone who thinks that the Soviet coup failed just because of incompetence, or just because Boris Yeltsin got on to a tank, does not understand the strength of democracy. Six years of democratic change in the Soviet Union had given a precious gift to the Soviet people and even to sections of the Soviet military.

The Secretary of State is muttering away. Let me give him another example of why I believe he lacks confidence in democracy. He makes great attacks, as do his colleagues, on the position of the Labour party. I remember the Secretary of State's comments on the morning of the Soviet coup—not when it had failed. So surprised was the interviewer at his equivocation—let us remember that this was before the coup had failed, and I quote from the transcript, although the Secretary of State probably wants to forget this—that the interviewer said: We weren't surely intending to do business with a hard-line, eight man emergency committee who are clamping down as they are today. The Secretary of State replied—this is illuminating when one considers his resolution— Well I've met Marshal Yazov. I think anybody who'd been to the Soviet Union realised people who were there had their concerns about the speed of the reforms and the tensions and difficulties that they were causing within the Soviet Union. How understanding of the Secretary of State. How kind of him to see the other chap's point of view, even if the other chap was a dogmatic, reactionary Stalinist who had just engineered an unconstitutional coup d'etat. How resolute in his equivocation. How principled in his prevarication that morning before the coup failed. The Secretary of State should remember that interview before he criticises anyone on these Benches for lack of resolution.

The Secretary of State should also remember the legacy that he leaves the Ministry of Defence—a lack of vision in the absence of strategy, a complete mismatch between commitments and resources, a procurement regime that is marked by budget overruns and delays, a lowering of morale at home and an abrogation of responsibility abroad. Last night the Secretary of State took his first faltering steps to recoup his losses and to define a strategy. He started three years too late. He has only six months to go.

For years people have known that the health service of Britain is not safe in the Government's hands. It has taken the crass ingenuity of this Secretary of State and his Ministers to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the same is also true of the defence of this country. For that, if for nothing else, the Secretary of State will be remembered and for that he will be neither forgotten nor forgiven.

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

What an incredible and brilliant speech we have just heard from the hon. Member for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid). Without any doubt he is the cleverest man on the Opposition Front Bench when it comes to speaking on defence, but whether that is very difficult I do not know. I have the gravest doubts about whether we heard anything about the Labour party's defence policy. We were promised a full review if Labour were to win the election. That is all we have heard. We know that the Labour party will cut defence, but we do not know by how much. It is incredible to me that the Labour party is still so reluctant to spell out where its policy will lead and what it is going to do.

Mr. McWilliam

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I thought that this debate was about the motion before the House— a Government motion accepting the defence White Paper. This is not the opportunity to debate the Opposition's defence policy, which we should welcome.

Mr. Donald Thompson (Calder Valley)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Allow me to reply. We are debating the Opposition amendment.

Mr. Hamilton

Many points have been made during the debate and I shall have to write to most hon. Members on both sides of the House. I should like to run through some remarks on resettlement, housing and the reorganisation of districts. I shall then move on to the rationale behind "Options for Change" and deal in particular with the Army and the infantry. I shall say something about Scots regiments. Therefore, I intend to address the main issues that have been raised during the debate.

It was good to hear again from the right hon. Member for Leeds, East (Mr. Healey). He is well informed on most issues involving foreign affairs and there was plenty of gravitas in his speech. I can hardly believe that it was the same right hon. Gentleman who, a few months ago, forecast that the Gulf war would end in a bloodbath, that the outcome was uncertain and that the war would go on indefinitely. It is interesting that the only thing that is going on indefinitely as a result of the Gulf war is the United Nations sanctions on which the Opposition were placing all their trust in terms of getting Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait.

I should like to deal with some of the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Alexander) and the measures that we are taking to ease the burden of change on individual service men.

We already provide resettlement services to around 14,000 service men and women each year. During the restructuring that will increase, but with careful planning the system will cope with it. Those made redundant will receive a special capital payment as well as the normal gratuity and pension. Thus a staff sergeant with 14 years' service would receive total payments of about £33,000 without commuting his pension. A major with 20 years' service would receive some £73,000. Those leaving the services will get briefings on careers, job search training and 28 days' pre-release resettlement training or attachment to a civilian firm to gain skills relevant in the civilian market.

The resettlement process aims to ensure that individuals are better placed to compete in the job market. They will, however, be able to have assistance from the tri-service resettlement organisation employment unit and also from the Regular Forces Employment Association or the Officers Association, as well as the Department of Employment.

Yesterday the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) raised the question of housing, as did the right hon. and learned Member for Aberavon (Mr. Morris) and my hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin). No discussion of the reductions in the armed forces would be complete without dealing with housing. Personnel leaving the services over the next few years, some under special arrangements for the redundancy programme, will include some who are not home-owners. Lump sum payments and terminal benefits should make it easier to enter the civilian housing market. However, we expect that most of those who opt to take redundancy terms will have already made their own provision for housing.

None the less, as the White Paper—"Britain's Army for the 90s"—said, the Ministry of Defence will be considerate in its treatment of those who will lose their entitlement to married quarters as a result of redundancy.

We have also said that, where possible, we will make available to housing associations some surplus service property to give temporary help, in the short term, to service personnel in severe housing need while they make more permanent arrangements. I hope that it will he possible to make substantive announcements on this item in the near future.

The proportion of home owners in the services is lower than the national average. My right hon. Friend said that he intended to make changes in the housing opportunities open to service personnel. He therefore set up a task force under my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces with representatives from the voluntary housing movement as well as from the Royal British Legion, the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen's Families Association—SSAFA—and the Federation of Army Wives. In addition to looking at the immediate problems faced by service personnel, the task force is also working on a new range of home ownership opportunities such as part ownership.

The intention behind that work is to enable service personnel, during their careers, to enter the housing market and get used to the costs and responsibilities that home ownership always carries with it.

I am particularly pleased to be able to announce that the Ministry of Defence has accepted an offer made by a leading financial institution whereby full-time members of the armed forces will be eligible to apply for mortgages at reduced rates. The preferential rate will apply for the full term of the mortgage whether or not the borrower remains in the armed forces. As part of the rationalisation of the Army's support area, we continue to study the reorganisation of the United Kingdom land forces district structure.

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)

Does the Minister accept that a substantial number of the people who are leaving the forces are likely to want to obtain rented housing? Will he say anything about extra provision so that local authorities can met the need for additional rented housing?

Mr. Hamilton

If the hon. Gentleman reads my speech tomorrow, he will find that I have already referred to surplus married quarters being offered to housing trusts.

As part of the rationalisation of the Army's support area, we continue to study the reorganisation of the United Kingdom land forces district structure with a view to reducing from 10 the number of Army districts in the United Kingdom. My right hon. Friend announced the first stage of this reorganisation—the formation of the Wales and western district—on 23 July. The second stage will be the formation of a new eastern district to replace the existing eastern and north-east districts. The new eastern district, to be formed in April 1992, will have its district headquarters at York. There will be no change to London district. Work on the final stage of the district structual reorganisation is continuing.

I should like to pay tribute to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Colchester, North (Sir A. Buck), who made enormous efforts to get the headquarters of the division located in Colchester. I am sorry that he will find this rather disappointing news.

Sir Antony Buck (Colchester, North)

I am grateful for my right hon. Friend's kind comments. Is he aware that he has not answered any of the cogent points that I like to think I made in a letter to our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State a little while ago? The Secretary of State made encouraging noises and, for the reasons that I set out in the letter dated 16 July, it is a big mistake for Colchester to lose the area headquarters. Those reasons were then acknowledged as being cogent; why are they not now?

Mr. Hamilton

I fully acknowledge my hon. Friend's concern, but much serious thought was given to this and I know that the infrastructure provided at York was reckoned to be an overwhelming consideration.

I should like to deal with the specific concerns that are felt by several hon. Members about Britain's Army for the 1990s. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said much about this yesterday, but I hope that the House will bear with me if I cover some of the ground again. I know that it is a matter of widespread concern.

Perhaps I might first remind the House of the genesis of our plans. I do not need to set out again the detail of the extraordinary political and strategic changes, which were so graphically described by my right hon. Friend yesterday. There are already some 1 million fewer soldiers facing us from the one-time Warsaw pact countries in eastern Europe. Some 250,000 Soviet troops have also withdrawn from those countries and the total forces available to the Soviet Union are declining rapidly.

It was against the background of dramatic changes in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union that we first set out "Options for Change" last July. The changes were not expected to take place overnight. Rather, they were a programme of proposals phased over several years and able to respond to the developing changes in the international scene.

I should like to deal in particular with the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Weston-superMare (Mr. Wiggin) that "Options for Change" was Treasury led and financially driven. That is not so. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence decided that we needed to consider how our defences should be adapted to changing international circumstan-ces and, with the agreement of the Prime Minister, initiated the "Options for Change" exercise. The starting point was not a target for particular financial savings but an analysis of how the world, particularly Europe, had changed and was changing. This work was conducted under the direction of Defence Ministers and carried out by a team of their military and civilian advisers responsible for policy and programme issues. It was not externally imposed, driven or directed. The work had to take account of resource questions. How could it not, given the other demands on our resources for priorities such as health care, education and social services?

In recognising alternatives, we had to address their cost or strike a balance between numbers of troops, equipment and support. Our aim as Defence Ministers has been to produce a structure that makes a reasonable demand on public expenditure, is affordable and is therefore sustainable. We have also been keen to ensure that our future manpower requirements make a reasonable claim on a falling number of young people in the population as a whole. That is how people expect a responsible Government to act.

Mr. Gary Waller (Keighley)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Hamilton

I am afraid that I must continue, or I shall not be able to complete what I want to say.

The Government's approach to our forward defence budget in last year's public expenditure survey reflected the work on "Options for Change" and not the other way round. The reductions foreseen are modest both in themselves and in comparison with those envisaged by some of our allies. I know that a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House sincerely take the view that the world remains so unstable that it is too early to reduce our forces. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State explained yesterday, the collapse of the Soviet Union has proceeded far more rapidly than we could have envisaged last year. There are still risks, as the bungled August coup illustrated, but the world has changed fundamentally and, with it, threats to our security. That is not just the view of the Government. Let us look briefly at the plans of our major allies.

President Bush has announced planned manpower cuts of half a million troops, or about 25 per cent., and United States ground and air forces in Europe are likely to halve by 1995. German forces are something of a special case, as they also have to absorb the one-time Warsaw pact troops of the NVA. As a result, their total strength will be reduced by more than 40 per cent. by the middle of the decade. The number of French forces will be reduced by about 17 per cent., Italian forces by about 27 per cent. and Spanish forces by about 37 per cent. Our plans envisage a cut of about 20 per cent.

I appreciate that there are particular concerns, as expressed by my hon. Friends the Members for East Hampshire (Mr. Mates), for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) and for Devizes (Sir C. Morrison) and by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Boscawen), who considered these cuts too deep. Yesterday, the House heard how the reduced number of battalions relates to our revised commitments, and perhaps I might repeat the figures tonight. The reduction in Germany will reduce demands on the infantry by 10 battalions—three in Berlin and seven elsewhere. Four battalions will go from Hong Kong and five regular battalions committed to home defence can be replaced by Territorials. That means that our regular infantry commitments come down by 19 battalions, against 17 which will be amalgamated or reduced.

In terms of manpower numbers, the figures are equally convincing. Our commitment in Europe will be reduced by about 35,000 troops. On top of that, we shall pull out of Hong Kong about 6,000 men and there will be substantial savings in Army support activities in the United Kingdom. Against that background, the planned cuts amount to only 40,000—so surpluses will be created.

Mr. Churchill

Will my right hon. Friend comment on the suggestion by my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Sir D. Price) that, for a mere £75 million a year, or the cost of three Tornados, we could put back six infantry battalions and get rid of all these ideas?

Mr. Hamilton

Yes, but that may not he the priority that the services collectively decide that they want. We must bear in mind that the savings which we propose came from the executive committee of the Army Board. It suggested how this could he done—[Interruption.] I am not the executive committee of the Army Board. Ministers are not represented on that committee.

I should like to turn to Scotland. There is no doubt that my hon. Friend the Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Perth and Kinross (Sir N. Fairbairn) and the hon. Members for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway), for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin) and for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) are very worried. I accept that great strength of feeling in Scotland has been aroused by the proposed changes. No solution will please everyone, but it is plain wrong to suggest that Scotland is bearing a dispropor-tionate share of the reductions. [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish."]

The fact is that the proportion of Scottish units in the Army overall will increase rather than decrease. Looking at the infantry, four of the other five divisions will be reduced by a greater percentage than the Scottish Division, which will continue to provide almost the same proportion of the arm overall, which is about 16 per cent. However, looking at the Royal Armoured Corps, the 4th Royal Tank Regiment will amalgamate——

Mr. Bill Walker


Sir Nicholas Fairbairn


Mr. Hamilton

But the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards ——[HON. MEMBERS: "Give way."] I will give way in one minute. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards will remain unaffected, thus increasing Scottish representation overall. Similarly, none of the three Scottish artillery regiments will be affected, so their proportion rises. In short, although Scotland may provide a very slightly smaller proportion of the infantry, that is more than offset by a significantly bigger share of armour and artillery.

Sir Nicholas Fairbairn

If my right hon. Friend wants fully maintained battalions—and all the Scottish ones that the Government propose to amalgamate are fully maintained—why does he want to get rid of the Scottish battalions as opposed to the battalions that are not fully maintained? Why does he consider that four Scottish infantry regiments, in a country that has always given a far greater proportion of the infantry to the defence of the realm, should be savaged again, including the Queen's Own Highlanders, who were amalgamated 30 years ago, whereas regiments that are under strength should be left alone, in the King's Division and in other places?

Mr. Hamilton

Many different considerations were given, some of which were geographical. I know that one consideration was the demographic change that will take place in Scotland, which means that the numbers from whom we can recruit will be reduced more markedly in Scotland than in other parts of the country.

Mr. Bill Walker

I thank my right hon. Friend. He is aware that I have sat here for two days and not been called in the debate. Is he aware that, in Scotland, we recognise that only under a Conservative Government is our future defence secure? However, can he tell us what the timing affecting the four Scottish regiments for amalgamation is likely to be? I assure him that the campaign that we are conducting to save our regiments will continue.

Mr. Hamilton

I hear what my hon. Friend says. We are trying to deal with the question of timing as sensibly as we can. All I would say is that none of the Scottish regiments is involved in phase one, which ends in March 1993.

This has been the most extraordinary debate. We have heard almost nothing about Labour policies.

Mr. Nicholas Budgen (Wolverhampton, South-West)


Mr. Hamilton

We have heard almost nothing about Labour policy. What we have had is countless Labour Members asking for certain units to be saved and for orders to be placed, although, at the same time, one has every reason to believe that they will vote for an amendment which says that defence expenditure should be cut more drastically than has been proposed by the Government.

The confusion does not end there. A number of Opposition Members are still sincere, paid-up members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. The hon. Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) called yesterday for the Government to take the axe to our independent nuclear deterrent. Of course, he is not alone. The hon. Members for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) are among members of CND on the Opposition Benches. They do not think that it is good enough to let their membership lapse.

How do such hon. Members react to the so-called "changed policy" on nuclear weapons in the Labour party? They arc remarkably calm about it. Perhaps it is because they know only too well that the only authentic Labour defence policy of any kind is that spelt out in the document "Meet the Challenge: Make the Change", which was passed by a two thirds majority at the 1989 Labour party conference. The document commits the future Labour Government to negotiate away Britain's deter-rents in exchange for a minute percentage of the enormous Soviet arsenals. The document has never been repudiated by the Labour leadership, nor, to the best of my knowledge, has it been allowed to lapse.

Many of us came here today to the last debate on a Defence White Paper before the election to hear more of the Government's plans for defence in the 1990s, so clearly set out in our document "Britain's Defence for the 90s". We were also interested to know what policy the Opposition put forward for the defence of our country into the next century.

I am afraid that we have been disappointed. Following this debate, our understanding of Labour's defence policy will be no clearer than it was at the beginning. We see a party infested with unilateral disarmers pretending that it will keep our nuclear deterrent. Labour Members who call for new orders and plead for the Government to save this unit or that will shortly go through the Division Lobbies to vote for an amendment that calls for further cuts in defence expenditure. That is the official Labour party amendment, which you have selected, Mr. Speaker.

A quick glance at the Order Paper shows that 16 members of the Labour party want to get rid of Britain's deterrent, kick the Americans out of Europe and reduce our defence expenditure to a third. Behind those 16 names there are many more, and we cannot in any way entrust the country's defence to the Labour party.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 238, Noes 345.

Division No. 226] [10 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'I)
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.) Dewar, Donald
Allen, Graham Dixon, Don
Alton, David Dobson, Frank
Anderson, Donald Doran, Frank
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Duffy, Sir A. E. P.
Armstrong, Hilary Dunnachie, Jimmy
Ashley. Rt Hon Jack Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Ashton, Joe Eadie, Alexander
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Eastham, Ken
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Edwards, Huw
Barron, Kevin Evans, John (St Helens N)
Battle. John Fatchett, Derek
Beckett. Margaret Faulds. Andrew
Beith, A. J. Fearn, Ronald
Bellotti, David Field, Frank (Birkenhead)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Fisher, Mark
Benton, Joseph Flannery, Martin
Bermingham, Gerald Flynn, Paul
Blair, Tony Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Blunkett, David Foster, Derek
Boateng, Paul Foulkes. George
Boyes, Roland Fraser, John
Bradley, Keith Fyfe, Maria
Bray, Dr Jeremy Galbraith, Sam
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E) Galloway, George
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E) Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) George, Bruce
Caborn, Richard Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Callaghan. Jim Godman, Dr Norman A.
Campbell, Menzies (File NE) Golding, Mrs Llin
Campbell, Ron (Blylh Valley) Gordon, Mildred
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Gould, Bryan
Canavan, Dennis Graham, Thomas
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Carr, Michael Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W) Grocott, Bruce
Clay, Bob Hain, Peter
Clelland, David Hardy, Peter
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Harman, Ms Harriet
Cohen, Harry Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cook, Frank (Stockton N) Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Cook, Robin (Livingston) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Corbett, Robin Henderson, Doug
Corbyn, Jeremy Hinchliffe, David
Cousins, Jim Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Cox, Tom Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Crowther, Stan Home Robertson, John
Cryer, Bob Hood, Jimmy
Cummings, John Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Howell. Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Cunningham, Dr John Howells, Geraint
Dalyell, Tam Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Darling, Alistair Hoyle, Doug
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Hughes. John (Coventry NE)
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E) O'Neill, Martin
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Illsley, Eric Patchett. Terry
Ingram, Adam Pendry, Tom
Janner, Greville Pike, Peter L.
Johnston, Sir Russell Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Prescott, John
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Primarolo. Dawn
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Quin, Ms Joyce
Kennedy, Charles Radice, Giles
Kilfedder, James Randall. Stuart
Kilfoyle, Peter Redmond. Martin
Kinnock, Rt Hon Neil Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Kirkwood, Archy Reid, Dr John
Lambie, David Richardson, Jo
Lamond, James Robertson, George
Leadbitter, Ted Robinson, Geoffrey
Leighton, Ron Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles) Rogers, Allan
Lewis, Terry Rooker, Jeff
Litherland, Robert Rooney, Terence
Livingstone, Ken Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford) Rowlands. Ted
Lofthouse. Geoffrey Ruddock, Joan
Loyden, Eddie Sedgemore, Brian
McAllion, John Sheerman, Barry
McCrea, Rev William Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Macdonald, Calum A. Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McFall, John Short, Clare
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Skinner, Dennis
McKelvey, William Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
McLeish. Henry Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
McMaster, Gordon Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
McNamara. Kevin Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
McWilliam, John Snape, Peter
Madden, Max Soley. Clive
Mahon, Mrs Alice Spearing, Nigel
Marek, Dr John Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Marshall, David (Shettleston) Steinberg, Gerry
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Stott, Roger
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn) Straw, Jack
Martlew, Eric Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Maxton, John Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Meacher. Michael Turner, Dennis
Meale, Alan Vaz. Keith
Michael. Alun Walley, Joan
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley) Warden. Gareth (Gower)
Michie. Mrs Ray (Arg'I & Bute) Wareing, Robert N.
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby) Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Moonie, Dr Lewis Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Morgan, Rhodri Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Morley, Elliot Williams. Alan W. (Carm'then)
Morris. Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Wilson, Brian
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Winnick, David
Mowlam, Marjorie Wise, Mrs Audrey
Mudd, David Worthington, Tony
Mullin, Chris Wray. Jimmy
Murphy, Paul Young, David (Bolton SE)
Nellist, Dave
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Tellers for the Ayes:
O'Brien, William Mr. Frank Haynes and
O'Hara, Edward Mr. Thomas McAvoy.
Adley, Robert Baldry, Tony
Aitken, Jonathan Banks, Robert (Harrogate)
Alexander, Richard Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Batiste, Spencer
Allason, Rupert Beaumont-Dark, Anthony
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Beggs, Roy
Amess, David Bellingham, Henry
Amos, Alan Bendall. Vivian
Arbuthnot, James Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Benyon, W.
Ashby, David Bevan, David Gilroy
Aspinwall, Jack Biffen, Rt Hon John
Atkins, Robert Blackburn, Dr John G.
Atkinson, David Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Body, Sir Richard
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gardiner, Sir George
Boswell, Tim Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bottomley, Peter Gill, Christopher
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Goodlad, Alastair
Bowis, John Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gorst, John
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Brazier, Julian Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bright, Graham Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gregory, Conal
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Browne, John (Winchester) Grist, Ian
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Ground, Patrick
Buck, Sir Antony Grylls, Michael
Budgen, Nicholas Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Burt, Alistair Hague, William
Butler, Chris Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie
Butterfill, John Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Hampson, Dr Keith
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hanley, Jeremy
Carrington, Matthew Hannam, John
Carttiss, Michael Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Cartwright, John Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Cash, William Harris, David
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Haselhurst, Alan
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hawkins, Christopher
Chapman, Sydney Hayes, Jerry
Chope, Christopher Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Churchill, Mr Hayward, Robert
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Colvin, Michael Hill, James
Conway, Derek Hind, Kenneth
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hordern, Sir Peter
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Couchman, James Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Cran, James Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Curry, David Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Day, Stephen Hunt, Rt Hon David
Devlin, Tim Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Dickens, Geoffrey Hunter, Andrew
Dicks, Terry Irvine, Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Jack, Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jackson, Robert
Dover, Den Janman, Tim
Dunn, Bob Jessel, Toby
Durant, Sir Anthony Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Dykes, Hugh Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Eggar, Tim Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Emery, Sir Peter Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd) Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Evennett, David King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Fallon, Michael Kirkhope, Timothy
Farr, Sir John Knapman, Roger
Favell, Tony Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Field, Barry (Isle of Wight) Knowles, Michael
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Knox, David
Fishburn, John Dudley Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Fookes, Dame Janet Latham, Michael
Forman, Nigel Lawrence, Ivan
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Forth, Eric Lee, John (Pendle)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fox, Sir Marcus Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Franks, Cecil Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Freeman, Roger Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
French, Douglas Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)
Fry, Peter Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Gale, Roger Lord, Michael
Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard Sackville, Hon Tom
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Sainsbury, Hon Tim
McCrindle, Sir Robert Sayeed, Jonathan
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shaw, David (Dover)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Maclean, David Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
McLoughlin, Patrick Shelton, Sir William
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Madel, David Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Maginnis, Ken Shersby, Michael
Malins, Humfrey Sims, Roger
Mans, Keith Skeet, Sir Trevor
Maples, John Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Marland, Paul Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Marlow, Tony Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Speed, Keith
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Speller, Tony
Mates, Michael Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Maude, Hon Francis Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Squire, Robin
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stanbrook, Ivor
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Mellor, Rt Hon David Steen, Anthony
Meyer, Sir Anthony Stern, Michael
Miller, Sir Hal Stevens, Lewis
Mills, Iain Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Miscampbell, Norman Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Stewart, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Mitchell, Sir David Stokes, Sir John
Moate, Roger Sumberg, David
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James Summerson, Hugo
Monro, Sir Hector Tapsell, Sir Peter
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Moore, Rt Hon John Taylor, Sir Teddy
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Temple-Morris, Peter
Morrison, Rt Hon Sir Peter Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Moss, Malcolm Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Thorne, Neil
Neale, Sir Gerrard Thornton, Malcolm
Needham, Richard Thurnham, Peter
Nelson, Anthony Townend, John (Bridlington)
Neubert, Sir Michael Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Tracey, Richard
Nicholls, Patrick Tredinnick, David
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Trimble, David
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Trippier, David
Norris, Steve Trotter, Neville
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Twinn, Dr Ian
Oppenheim, Phillip Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Page, Richard Viggers, Peter
Paice, James Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Patnick, Irvine Walden, George
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
Patten, Rt Hon John Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Pawsey, James Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Waller, Gary
Porter, Barry (Wirral S) Ward, John
Porter, David (Waveney) Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Portillo, Michael Warren, Kenneth
Powell, William (Corby) Watts, John
Price, Sir David Wells, Bowen
Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy Wheeler, Sir John
Rathbone, Tim Whitney, Ray
Redwood, John Widdecombe, Ann
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Wilkinson, John
Rhodes James, Sir Robert Wilshire, David
Riddick, Graham Wolfson, Mark
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wood, Timothy
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Roe, Mrs Marion Yeo, Tim
Ross, William (Londonderry E) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Rossi, Sir Hugh
Rost, Peter Tellers for the Noes:
Rowe, Andrew Mr. David Lightbown and
Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela Mr. John M. Taylor.
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 324, Noes 66.

Division No. 227] [10.18 pm
Adley, Robert Dickens, Geoffrey
Aitken, Jonathan Dicks, Terry
Alexander, Richard Dorrell, Stephen
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Allason, Rupert Dover, Den
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Dunn, Bob
Amess, David Durant, Sir Anthony
Amos, Alan Dykes, Hugh
Arbuthnot, James Eggar, Tim
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Emery, Sir Peter
Ashby, David Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Aspinwall, Jack Evennett, David
Atkins, Robert Fallon, Michael
Atkinson, David Farr, Sir John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Favell, Tony
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Fenner, Dame Peggy
Baldry, Tony Field, Barry (Isle of Wight)
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Fishburn, John Dudley
Batiste, Spencer Fookes, Dame Janet
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Forman, Nigel
Bellingham, Henry Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bendall, Vivian Forth, Eric
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Bevan, David Gilroy Fox, Sir Marcus
Bitten, Rt Hon John Franks, Cecil
Blackburn, Dr John G. Freeman, Roger
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Fry, Peter
Body, Sir Richard Gale, Roger
Boswell, Tim Gardiner, Sir George
Bottomley, Peter Garel-Jones, Tristan
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Gill, Christopher
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n) Glyn, Dr Sir Alan
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bowis, John Goodlad, Alastair
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gorst, John
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Brazier, Julian Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Bright, Graham Greenway, John (Ryedale)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Gregory, Conal
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Grist, Ian
Budgen, Nicholas Ground, Patrick
Burt, Alistair Grylls, Michael
Butler, Chris Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Butterfill, John Hague, William
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hamilton, Rt Hon Archie
Carrington, Matthew Hamilton, Neil (Jatton)
Carttiss, Michael Hampson, Dr Keith
Cartwright, John Hanley, Jeremy
Cash, William Hannam, John
Chalker, Rt Hon Mrs Lynda Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'Il Gr')
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Chapman, Sydney Harris, David
Chope, Christopher Haselhurst, Alan
Churchill, Mr Hawkins, Christopher
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth) Hayes, Jerry
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Clark, Rt Hon Sir William Hayward, Robert
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Heathcoat-Amory, David
Colvin, Michael Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Conway, Derek Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Hill, James
Cope, Rt Hon Sir John Hind, Kenneth
Couchman, James Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cran, James Hordern, Sir Peter
Currie, Mrs Edwina Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Curry, David Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Davis, David (Boothferry) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Devlin, Tim Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk) Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Oppenheim, Phillip
Hunt, Rt Hon David Page, Richard
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Paice, James
Hunter, Andrew Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Irvine, Michael Patnick, Irvine
Jack, Michael Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Jackson, Robert Patten, Rt Hon John
Janman, Tim Pawsey, James
Jessel, Toby Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Porter, Barry (Wirral S)
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Porter, David (Waveney)
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Portillo, Michael
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Powell, William (Corby)
Kellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine Price, Sir David
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Raison, Rt Hon Sir Timothy
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Rathbone, Tim
Kirkhope, Timothy Redwood, John
Knapman, Roger Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Rhodes James, Sir Robert
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston) Riddick, Graham
Knowles, Michael Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Knox, David Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Lang, Rt Hon Ian Roe, Mrs Marion
Latham, Michael Rossi, Sir Hugh
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Rost, Peter
Lee, John (Pendle) Rowe, Andrew
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Sackville, Hon Tom
Li I ley, Rt Hon Peter Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant) Sayeed, Jonathan
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lord, Michael Shaw, David (Dover)
Luce, Rt Hon Sir Richard Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
McCrindle, Sir Robert Shelton, Sir William
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Maclean, David Shersby, Michael
McLoughlin, Patrick Sims, Roger
McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael Skeet, Sir Trevor
McNair-Wilson, Sir Patrick Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Madel, David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Malins, Humfrey Speed, Keith
Mans, Keith Speller, Tony
Maples, John Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Marland, Paul Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Marlow, Tony Squire, Robin
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Stanbrook, Ivor
Martin, David (Portsmouth S) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Mates, Michael Steen, Anthony
Maude, Hon Francis Stern, Michael
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Stevens, Lewis
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Mellor, Rt Hon David Stewart, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Meyer, Sir Anthony Sumberg, David
Miller, Sir Hal Summerson, Hugo
Mills, Iain Tapsell, Sir Peter
Miscampbell, Norman Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Taylor, Sir Teddy
Mitchell, Sir David Temple-Morris, Peter
Moate, Roger Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Moore, Rt Hon John Thorne, Neil
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Thornton, Malcolm
Morrison, Rt Hon Sir Peter Thurnham, Peter
Moss, Malcolm Townend, John (Bridlington)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Neale, Sir Gerrard Tracey, Richard
Needham, Richard Tredinnick, David
Nelson, Anthony Trippier, David
Neubert, Sir Michael Trotter, Neville
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Twinn, Dr Ian
Nicholls, Patrick Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Viggers, Peter
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Norris, Steve Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Walden, George Wilkinson, John
Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester) Wilshire, David
Waller, Gary Wolfson, Mark
Ward, John Wood, Timothy
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Warren, Kenneth Yeo, Tim
Watts, John Young, Sir George (Acton)
Wells, Bowen
Wheeler, Sir John Tellers for the Ayes:
Whitney, Ray Mr. David Lightbown and
Widdecombe, Ann Mr. John M. Taylor.
Abbott, Ms Diane Carr, Michael
Alton, David Clay, Bob
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Cohen, Harry
Beggs, Roy Corbyn, Jeremy
Beith, A. J. Cousins, Jim
Bellotti, David Cryer, Bob
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Douglas, Dick
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas
Browne, John (Winchester) Fearn, Ronald
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) George, Bruce
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Godman, Dr Norman A.
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Heal, Mrs Sylvia Redmond, Martin
Home Robertson, John Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Howells, Geraint Ross, William (Londonderry E)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Salmond, Alex
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Sillars, Jim
Johnston, Sir Russell Skinner, Dennis
Kennedy, Charles Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Kilfedder, James Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Kirkwood, Archy Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Lambie, David Trimble, David
Lamond, James Turner, Dennis
Livingstone, Ken Walker, A. Cecil (Belfast N)
McCrea, Rev William Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Maginnis, Ken Wiggin, Jerry
Mahon, Mrs Alice Winterton, Mrs Ann
Meale, Alan Winterton, Nicholas
Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'I & Bute) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Monro, Sir Hector Tellers for the Noes:
Nellist, Dave Mr. Eddie Loyden and
Primarolo, Dawn Mr. Bill Michie.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved, That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1991 contained 1559

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