HL Deb 26 January 1984 vol 447 cc337-8

3.20 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Prime Minister has any plans to provide further assistance to the Secretary of State for Defence in carrying out his ardous duties.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, I am happy to say that my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence is entirely satisfied with the performance of his supporting staff and ministerial colleagues, not least the Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces, and the question therefore does not arise.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

But, my Lords, does the noble Lord realise that in addition to his other duties the Secretary of State has been acting very successfully as chief recruiting agent for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament? In view of that, is the Minister aware that a number of Conservatives who have recently joined the campaign have paid tribute to the efforts of the Minister's right honourable friend? In these circumstances, and even more seriously, will not the Minister suggest to the Prime Minister that the time may now be right to appoint a Minister for Disarmament? The Minister will recall that this was a position previously occupied by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in the Administration of my noble friend Lord Wilson of Rievaulx to assist the Secretary of State in his work for peace.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am not sure that the appointment of a new Minister is the right answer to every problem that may emerge. I can assure the noble Lord that the problem of disarmament is one which exercises not only my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence but also my right honourable and learned friend the Foreign Secretary and, indeed, other senior members of the Government.

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