HC Deb 23 November 1993 vol 233 c320
11. Mr. Bill Walker

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give details of aircraft allocated by his Department for strike duty.

Mr. Hanley

The RAF currently has eight squadrons of nuclear-capable Tornado aircraft and one squadron of nuclear-capable Buccaneer aircraft. The Buccaneer squadron will disband on 31 March next year.

Mr. Walker

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that, in the light of experience in the Gulf war-when strike crews of the Royal Air Force performed their operational tasks magnificently and with great courage—it would be naive, indeed irresponsible, for anyone to suggest that the Royal Air Force, especially its strike capability, should be compared with the Israeli air force, which has no worldwide capability?

Mr. Hanley

My hon. Friend is absolutely right on both counts—first, to pay tribute to the role of the Royal Air Force in the Gulf conflict and, secondly, to differentiate between the Israeli air force and our Royal Air Force in that, as he says, the former patrols its borders, whereas we have a worldwide responsibility.

Mr. Home Robertson

Does the Minister accept that simulated strikes against golf courses for the entertainment of pilots' families are not tolerable? Following the embarrassing failure of his Department's attempts to cover up such an incident over Gullane in my constituency on 16 September 1992, will he institute proper disciplinary proceedings to ensure that the tiny minority of pilots who indulge in such conduct are dealt with properly?

Mr. Hanley

I agree with the hon. Gentleman. The matter is being investigated.