NATO Tanks

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1976.

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Photo of Mr Geoffrey Pattie Mr Geoffrey Pattie , Chertsey and Walton 12:00 am, 14th December 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is satisfied with British participation in equipping new NATO tanks.

Photo of Dr John Gilbert Dr John Gilbert , Dudley East

The United States and Germany are developing tanks for introduction into service by the early 1980s. We are pressing on them the merits of recent British tank gun and ammunition developments. For the longer term, planning is in hand for a replacement for Chieftain in the late 1980s.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Pattie Mr Geoffrey Pattie , Chertsey and Walton

Is the Minister aware of the strong belief in this country that the British Government have been "taken to the cleaners" by the Governments of Germany and the United States, and that there seems little chance of the British 120 mm gun being part of the new NATO tank? Is this not a serious matter for the defence industries of Britain?

Photo of Dr John Gilbert Dr John Gilbert , Dudley East

The hon. Gentleman is leaping to a conclusion. At the moment an improved British rival 120 mm gun is being developed, and it has been offered for evaluation to the United States.

Photo of Mr Roderick MacFarquhar Mr Roderick MacFarquhar , Belper

Is it not the case that the United States Government are prepared to wait for the full development of our new 120 mm gun? Will my hon. Friend undertake to ensure that the German Government are made well aware of the feeling that will be generated in this House if they insist on pressing for a decision on the new gun next month before our gun is available for testing?

Photo of Dr John Gilbert Dr John Gilbert , Dudley East

I assure my hon. Friend that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has made his German and American counterparts fully aware of those considerations.