HC Deb 06 June 1995 vol 261 cc13-4
14. Mr. Barnes

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department will commission a military study of the use of atomic weapons over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; and if he will make a statement. [25107]

Mr. Soames

We have no plans to do so.

Mr. Barnes

Anniversaries are important because they give us the opportunity to do things that we should have done previously. Should we not have an investigation into what happened 50 years ago at Hiroshima and Nagasaki? President Eisenhower said that it was not necessary to hit the Japanese with that awful thing. The lesson for today might be that we should not be dependent on nuclear weapons and that we should be reducing our stockpile in an era of non-proliferation treaties, and even removing that stockpile altogether rather than increasing it.

Mr. Soames

The hon. Gentleman needs to remember that the war ended —[Interruption.] I fancy that the right hon. Member for Kingston-upon-Hull, East (Mr. Prescott) will never again be so popular. The war ended with the Allies victorious. The hon. Gentleman should remember that. We retain our nuclear weapons to deter —to preserve the peace, not to fight wars —in which role they have been a stupendous and triumphant success.

Mr. Gill

On the question of awesome weapons of mass destruction, has my hon. Friend read press reports that, next year, Russia will deploy the SS24 Topol missile? Does that not cause him to revise his Department's view that Russia no longer represents a direct threat to the peace of western Europe?

Mr. Soames

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw the House's attention to the fact that the Russians retain a formidable military capacity, on which we keep an extremely beady and careful eye. He is also quite correct to say that we should at all times remember the lessons of the past and that we need to keep our forces in readiness for whatever threat they may face. I can assure my hon. Friend that the advice from the chiefs of staff is that we are configured to do that right now.