HC Deb 04 November 2002 vol 392 c18
14. Richard Ottaway (Croydon, South)

What discussions he has had with the United States Administration on missile defence since July. [76706]

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon)

I last discussed missile defence issues with the United States Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, at our meeting in Washington on 11 September of this year.

Richard Ottaway

The Secretary of State will be well aware of the huge amount of interest in the project and its relevance to our country's strategic defence. As his research is reaching an advanced stage, can he give an idea of which bases in the UK will be involved in the project and which of our European partners are on board?

Mr. Hoon

I set out the Government's position—clearly, I hope—to the House on 17 October. I said that there was not yet a specific request for any particular bases in the UK and that the Government would agree to such a request only if we were satisfied that the overall security of the UK and the alliance would be enhanced. The hon. Gentleman's question is premature. As I said, we propose to set out for the benefit of hon. Members and others the necessary technical and policy considerations before returning to the House for a further discussion on that subject.

Mr. Malcolm Savidge (Aberdeen, North)

Will my right hon. Friend say whether, before British taxpayers' money is committed to that vastly expensive, technologically dubious protection against something that the MOD has assessed as a remote threat, Parliament will be permitted to debate and vote on the issue?

Mr. Hoon

I said on 17 October that the House would have the opportunity to discuss the material I just mentioned, which is currently being prepared within the Ministry of Defence. That is as far as I am prepared to go at this stage.

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