HC Deb 07 May 1996 vol 277 cc13-4
14. Mr. Duncan Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the nuclear, biological and chemical threat to the United Kingdom. [26932]

Mr. Soames

The nuclear, biological and chemical threat to the United Kingdom is assessed at present as extremely low, although we remain anxious for the future.

Mr. Duncan Smith

Does my hon. Friend agree that, in view of all the proliferation that is happening and is likely to happen, and the evidence of Libya's underground chemical and biological plant, the nature of the developing threat necessitates a powerful deterrent and that a deterrent is no use if the Government who hold it are not prepared to use it?

Mr. Soames

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. It would be folly to be complacent. We take very seriously the possible threat of nuclear, biological or chemical attack on the United Kingdom. Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery remain a major source of concern for the United Kingdom and our NATO partners and is, as my hon. Friend rightly said, another essential reason why we need to retain our independent deterrent. I wholeheartedly share his concerns about the construction of the new facility in Libya, which we are monitoring closely with our American friends.