HL Deb 18 December 1991 vol 533 c1330

1.45 p.m.

Lord Monson asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they expect that the armies and air forces of the Twelve member states of the European Community will be replaced by a single army and air force; and, if so, what will be the language of command and to whom will any oath of allegiance be sworn.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (The Earl of Caithness)

No, my Lords.

Lord Monson

My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his reply. It seems to indicate that the Conservatives at Westminster and the Conservatives at Strasbourg are at cross-purposes. Is he aware that the Conservative MEP for Lincolnshire, Mr. William Newton Dunn, has been enthusiastically forecasting for many months now that within a relatively short space of time there will be a single unified European army and a single unified European air force? If that should happen, will the noble Earl agree that whereas British servicemen may be prepared to die for family, friends, Queen and country, very few of them are prepared to die for M. Delors or his successor—or indeed for an entity such as the EC which commands the instinctive loyalty of virtually no one?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, whereas the noble Lord, Lord Monson, may prefer to deal with forecasts, I prefer to deal with agreements. The noble Lord will have read—I hope with considerable pleasure—the results of the Maastricht agreement.

Lord Mason of Barnsley

My Lords, although the Western European Union has in recent times been given some prominence, can the noble Earl assure the House that NATO still remains supreme to defend Western Europe and the United Kingdom?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, a decision was taken by all the allies at Rome and at Maastricht on the primacy of NATO in European defence.

Lord Richard

My Lords, I should like to say that I positively agree with the noble Earl's negative.

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord will also be agreeing with us all afternoon. I am most grateful to him.

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