Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a further Supplementary sum, not exceeding £517,309,000, be granted to Her Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund to defray the charges which will come in course of payment during the year ending on 31st March 1977 for expenditure on Defence Services, as set out in House of Commons Paper No. 9.—[Mr. Robert Sheldon.]
This must be third time lucky. The House and the country are concerned about the Estimates which the House is now considering. The Secretary of State for Defence told an hon. Member at Question Time a few months ago that the Chiefs of Staff can speak for themselves. The Secretary of State is not in the Chamber but I see that a Minister of State for Defence is here and I hope that he will tell the House whether this is a new constitutional arrangement under which the new Chiefs of Staff are entitled to speak for themselves. They have been prohibited from doing so throughout history. If there is a change I hope that the Government will allow them to speak loud and clear. If they are not allowed to do so, what the Secretary of State said must be an abdication of his responsibility for defence in this country. I hope that the Minister of State will say which of those two hypotheses is correct.
I beg to move, That the sum be reduced by £272,859,000 in respect of Votes 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.
A total of 46 hon. Members from this side of the House have put their names to the amendment. I must make it clear from the start that none of those who signed the amendment is making any objection to the increases in pay for members of Her Majesty's Forces in so far as that meets with the requirements of the pay policy. But I am not certain whether it involves the £6 pay policy or the second stage of the pay policy.
Many of us have already expressed our view about restrictions on pay increases, and I want to make clear that the amendment is not meant to deny the squaddy his rightful pay under the pay policy, but we are challenging the other items that appear in the Supplementary Estimates on page V. We make the challenge because of the cuts in education, health, social services, housing and so on. Given those cuts, it is unacceptable for the Government to come and ask for over another £300 million-plus for defence.
Reference is made within the details of the Estimates to price increases as a justification for asking for this sum. I remind the Front Bench of my party that local authorities are faced—as the Prime Minister said a few moments ago—with rigidly enforced strict cash limits. They are also faced with decisive cuts in the rate support grant. With both those factors at work, they must contain inflationary pressures if the costs to local authority departments are greater than what the Government think they are or should be. They must contain their spending within their own cash limits and cut back services to do so. But it appears that the Defence Department is not faced with the same kind of cash limit.
Elsewhere in the Supplementary Estimates reference is made to the increased costs due to the exchange rate, but no total is given. We are spending about £800 million annually on military commitments overseas, and about £500 million is being spent in Western Germany. About £2,000 million has been spent on military commitment overseas in the last three years.
We are in a situation where we are cutting the social wage to placate foreign bankers, the militant monetarists of the Opposition, the City, foreign speculators and the IMF. And yet the amount that we are now crawling to the IMF to borrow is about the same as the sum that we have spent on military commitments overseas in the last three to four years.
We are told that the Supplementary Estimates represent only 80 per cent. of the increase likely to come about in the current financial year. Does this mean that before long the Government will put before us further Supplementary Estimates of £200 million or £300 million, pushing our Defence Estimates way over the £6,000 million mark? These Supplementary Estimates must be seen against a background of expenditure of about £6,000 million on defence and a probable expenditure of £20,000 million over the next three years.
My hon. Friends have said time and again that as a proportion of the gross national product our defence expenditure is more than that of our industrial competitor countries. When that point is made, we are told that we should think of defence expenditure per head of population. I can only reply that, if defence expenditure were decided on that basis, heaven help us when we think of what China and India would be justified in spending on defence.
Will my hon. Friend tell us something about Soviet expenditure on defence and what proportion of overall public expenditure in the Soviet Union it represents?
I am prepared to stand up in Moscow, Washington, Tel Aviv or anywhere else and appeal to the Governments concerned to cut their defence expenditure before a near-madman presses a nuclear button and the whole of civilisation is destroyed. But we have a responsibility here. We are making the decisions here and now. If my hon. Friend would like to arrange for me to go to Red Square, Washington, Tel Aviv, Paris or anywhere else and shout as loud as I can, and appeal as well as I can for the Governments there to cut their defence spending, I shall be only too happy to do so.
I should be happy to go to Red Square or Washington. I have no idea what would happen to me in either place if I spoke in that way, but I should be prepared to do it. But it is nonsense to suggest that what is happening in the Soviet Union or the United States takes a responsibility off us. We are taking our decision this afternoon, and it should in my view be to oppose increases in defence expenditure.
I have said that our industrial competitor countries spend far less on defence as a proportion of their gross domestic product than we do. That is one of the major reasons why we now face serious import penetration throughout British industry. These vast sums on defence are not for the Japanese or, to a lesser extent, the Germans. They have channelled their resources into capital investment to build up their industries and we are feeling the effect, with almost 60 per cent. of our non-fuel imports now being of finished and semi-finished manufactured goods.
There are those who say that cutting defence spending would mean a loss of jobs and consequent unemployment. Such a statement has a hollow ring when we have almost 1½ million unemployed and when we are prepared to make vicious cuts in the public sector which we know will push up unemployment. People find that acceptable, but when it comes to defence the unemployment argument is used.
I am not one of those who say that we should be sacking people from defence industries, putting them into dole queues. I appeal to my right hon. Friends to remember our party's conference commitment to make a substantial cut in defence expenditure and to look at the work that has been done by shop stewards at Lucas, BAC and Rolls-Royce in producing first-rate proposals showing how we can utilise the innovative and creative skills of the workers in those firms in socially necessary and far more suitable alternative work.
The Tories want to cut public expenditure and cut and cut again—except defence expenditure, which they want to increase. If the cuts in public expenditure that the Tories want were allowed to happen, the unmployment consequences would make the inter-war years look like an economic miracle. But it is not just a question of guns before butter. The Tories want nuclear weapons and more nuclear weapons before food, housing, education, social services and all the other parts of the social wage.
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that 90,000 jobs have already been lost as a result of the defence cuts that his Government have made? What can he say to those who are on the dole as a result of his Government's actions which he is now supporting?
I made it quite clear that was not advocating defence cuts to put skilled workers into dole queues. I said that the trade union movement and groups of shop stewards had produced clear-cut proposals on how the innovative and creative skills of, for example, aircraft workers could be used to produce socially desirable and far more socially needed products. If the hon. Gentleman is saying that the only way in which we can keep the people concerned in work is by making weapons of destruction, that is a clear indictment of our society and the hon. Gentleman should be ashamed of saying it.
I accept that this applies to the rest of the world. I have made that absolutely clear.
The 46 of us who signed the amendment do not want today to agree to increase defence expenditure by more than £500 million and then have my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer deduct £100 million from that total tomorrow—[Interruption.]
We should find it completely unacceptable to vote today for the expenditure of an additional £500 million-plus on defence and then be expected to take it as a sop tomorrow if £100 million is cut.
I appreciate that the House is looking forward to getting back to the devolution debate, though quite why that should be I do not know. In my constituency in Wiltshire there are one or two other interests which we hold to be of comparable importance, and one of them is defence.
This afternoon the House is asked to approve the spending of additional money on defence. It is abundantly clear to all of us on the Opposition Benches that Labour Governments are not to be trusted with the responsibility for defence.
I remember very well that in the early months of 1965 a certain aircraft was undergoing its trials in my constituency. It was more advanced than anything then in service in the world. It flew daily over my constituency. It flew up to the Pennines and out to the Scilly Isles. It far exceeded its designers' hopes. British engineers had clearly developed a world beater and there was nothing—not even on the drawing board—to compare with it. Then, in his first spring Budget, the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Jenkins) who is shortly to leave us, and who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the cancellation of the TSR2 project. The aircraft was taken off the runway and sheeted up, and orders were given for the jigs to be destroyed so that the project could never be resurrected. We do not readily forget these things in the part of England that I represent.
Tomorrow we shall have yet another Budget. It will be the eighth Budget of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in less than three years. In March 1974 he cut £50 million off defence. In April 1975 he again cut back on defence. In February of this year he cut £190 million off defence. It is small wonder that some of us are uneasy about tomorrow, and that the Chiefs of Staff called at Downing Street last week. It never ceases to astonish me that they do not carry their protests to the point of resignation. The last senior soldier to resign over a point of principle was General d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, who later joined us here, and whose brother's death we mourn this week.
There is a section in the Supplementary Estimates dealing with research and development establishments. A shadow now hangs over the most advanced centre of all—the Microbiological Research Establishment at Porton. If the Attlee Government were right to set up these unique facilities, and were right in appreciating the real dangers to our population from germ warfare, it follows that the Callaghan Government, at a time when the Soviet threat is greater, must be wrong to close them.
There is nothing in the United Kingdom that is remotely comparable to this research establishment. In the free world, only in Germany and Atlanta, Georgia are there comparable facilities. Yet no country in the world is more vulnerable than the United Kingdom to military attack using disease germs as the weapons. Moreover, no form of warfare is easier, simpler or cheaper to conduct. Contrary to popular belief, it is an astonishingly unsophisticated business.
It is probable that most hon. Members saw crop spraying this summer. An aircraft flying over a cornfield can rid it of aphids within minutes. The principle is the same. One aircraft, flying 10 miles up, making use of prevailing winds and carrying a few tons of a biological agent, could bring life in this country to a halt. Some days would pass before anyone became conscious that anything had happened. There would be no fall-out that could be detected, and nothing that could be seen or smelt. Then the epidemic would break out on an unprecedented scale.
There is a whole range of diseases that lend themselves to military use. The choice is wide. The likelihood is that an enemy would choose, the most lethal. Anthrax is an example, and it is almost always fatal unless the necessary serum is applied, and unless scientists are trained and ready to supply it at short notice. But the disease could equally well be cholera, plague, or viral encephalitis. All are cheap and easily prepared, and none of them is attractive.
Four hundred scientists are working at MRE Porton. They include physicists, chemists, bio-chemists, bacteriologists, virologists and geneticists. They work in more than 100 laboratories, and are men and women of advanced training and experience. They are dedicated to their work and understand its relevance to the well-being of the community. The whole House will be delighted at the recovery of Mr. Geoffrey Platt, and we hope that he will shortly be reunited with his family. He is the scientist who recently caught Marburg disease and who has caused us some anxious weeks.
It is not difficult to imagine the feelings of these scientists and their families. Their concern goes much deeper than the prospect of unemployment, of which we have already heard. It goes deeper than the realisation that openings for such highly specialised personnel are rare. What really cuts deep among men and woment who have worked for 10 or 20 years at these frontiers of knowledge is the ham-fisted attitude of those who consider that their work is dispensable.
The left wing of the Labour Party does not believe in defence. All its thoughts are concentrated on the social wage—of which we heard this afternoon—on housing subsidies, and so on. What is criminal—and we watch it monthly from the Opposition Benches—is the way that the Government constantly appease the left wing. The national interest takes second place. When votes are needed in the Lobby. Tomorrow we shall see yet a further instalment of this.
I have always considered the present Chancellor to be the worst since the war, but I am unable to make up my mind whether he did more harm at the Ministry of Defence than he is now doing at the Treasury. In the spring of 1969 he told the House something of profound significance, but every subseqeuent act on his part has run counter to it. He said:
once we cut defence expenditure to the extent where our security is imperilled, we have no houses, we have no hospitals, we have no schools. We have a heap of cinders."—[Official Report,5th March 1969; Vol. 779, c. 551.)
The observations that I want to make about the motions before us will be almost entirely interrogative. They will consist largely of a series of questions designed to elucidate and get more information about some of the imprecise language set out in the Supplementary Estimate.
It is one of the heaviest responsibilities of this House to monitor and check the expenditure of public funds by the Government. It has been agreed by almost everyone, of whatever political view, who has thought about this subject in recent years that the extent to which, and the effectiveness with which, the House has carried out is function of invigilating Supply has declined over the last two or three decades.
There could be a number of reasons. Perhaps one is that we have a lot more to do today. There must be good causes and some bad causes for that. Whatever the reason, in the period since I first came here, rather more than 30 years ago—[Interruption.] That is a gentlemanly thing to say. Of course, the hon. Gentleman is a member of the gentlemanly party. Perhaps it is too long, but it was not for the hon. Gentleman to say so. Someone will say it to him one day.
In this rather more than 30 years, I have observed that the surveillance of expenditure by Parliament has become increasingly less effective. This is a rôle which we should take up more.
I recall once sitting all night on a Supply debate and it was one of the best debates I have ever attended. It started at 3.30 in the afternoon and finished after midday the following day. I do not recall a single word which was not practically directed at examining the Estimates. There was a great deal of discussion during the night about, among other things, the purchase of paper and stationery and the best forms of stock keeping.
I am sure that one one will object if I do a little invigilating work on this Estimate. Some points have been raised which it would be discourteous of me not to mention. Somehow, it has always been accepted that there is a substantial difference between defence expenditure and other expenditure—that defence is a sacred cow, and that anyone who starts to look down its gullet is being unpatriotic or treacherous, but that all other expenditure is wide open for examination and we have a right and, indeed, a solemn duty to examine it.
This is something which no one, whatever his political view, should accept. Anyone who has run a big organisation knows that it is possible to have waste if the system of operation is not checked. This is as true in hospitals and local authorities as it is in the Army or the Ministry of Defence.
There ought to be no sacred cows; we should look, with equal assiduity and determination to avoid waste, at all Government expenditure and not take the view that defence is a sacred cow.
Opposition Members shouted a lot of rubbish at my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas) about Moscow, Washington, and so on, as though it is patriotic to challenge expenditure of the National Health Service but treacherous to challenge defence expenditure. What rubbish that is.
I take the hon. Gentleman's point that nothing can be issume from invigilation, but does he not agree that the pattern of the past 10 years, under all Governments, has been that defence expenditure has steadily reduced as a proportion of gross national product while public expenditure in most other areas, including education, health and local government, has increased? If there are any sacred cows, defence is not among them.
The two halves of the hon. Gentleman's question constitute a non sequitur. The answer to the first part is "Yes"; that has been the general pattern. But the second part of his question is not relevant to that, because we must consider all the changes of circumstances, and, above all, the changed rôles which have occurred. We were once a great imperial Power, occupying red spaces all over the globe. We had considerable obligations to defend very nearly all those red spaces. They have now gone from the ambit of our defence policy. The Australians and the Indians do not rely on us to protect them. Belize and Hong Kong are now almost the only colonial defence obligations left. The instrument has run down because the task for which it was fashioned has been changed and greatly reduced.
At the same time, taking up the other half of the hon. Gentleman's question, needs at home have increased because there has been an escalation of social expectation, and this has been an equal phenomenon all over the world. The hon. Gentleman could have put his question in the Parliaments at Bonn, Paris or The Hague and it would have been equally irrelevant.
I do not know what that has to do with it. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman approves of Soviet defence policy. I do not, and have said so on many occasions.
The hon. Gentleman asked my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West what would happen if he queried defence policy in Times Square or in Moscow. I know that if I did that in Moscow, I would be photographed by the KGB and put on a computer. In Times Square, I would be photographed by the FBI and put on a computer, and in Trafalgar Square I would be photographed by MI5 and put on a computer. What the hell is the difference?
The essential point is whether the hon. Gentleman believes that in Moscow he would be allowed to complete his speech, be interviewed on the radio, and for the news to be carried on television and in the Press. He would have that privilege in both Times Square and in Trafalgar Square, as he knows. The hon. Gentleman is sympathetic to the régime in East Germany, where they murder people for trying to escape, let alone for questioning defence policy.
That is grossly offensive and, I should think, grossly out of order, but it is typical of the hon. Gentleman.
Of course I know that there is restriction of personal liberty in Moscow. I have been fighting it for 30 years.
No, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will not. The right hon. Gentleman said that I made money out of East Germany. That is either a truthful statement or it is not. I am willing to submit to an independent examination which will show that I have never had a single penny out of that country, in any circumstances whatever. If saying that I have does not constitute a lie, will you please advise me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether it is truthful?
I will use the words of my old late lamented friend, Damon Runyon, who said
If it was not a lie, it will do until a real lie comes along.
Perhaps I may continue trying to make what was a serious contribution to this debate before the puerile nonsense from the hon. Member for Epping when he interrupted me.
Wherever it is, the hon. Gentleman's constituents suffer considerably. They should be better represented.
I said that I would make two general points. The second concerns the question of defence expenditure as a vehicle for providing employment. I wish that hon. Members who argue that we cannot cut defence expenditure because that would add to the already horrific level of unemployment would think through the consequences of what they are saying. They are saying that one should go on making weapons, whether one needs them or not and whether or not they are of any use, not in order not to have the weapons but to provide employment. No man in his right mind would ever argue that, but that is clearly the extension in logic of the argument that one must not cut defence expenditure because one will create unemployment. I leave aside for the moment the valuable point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, North-West, that it is always assumed—for some reason that I do not understand—that people engaged in making arms cannot make anything else, and that if they were not making arms they would be unemployed. I do not know why that should be true.
I recall that towards the end of the war, in almost every arms factory serious discussions were going on about what they would do after the war, because they knew that the defence industries would be hugely run down. I sat in on many of those discussions, which were very interesting and which showed a great deal of inventiveness, ingenuity and initiative. Many good things were worked out, as is happening now in the Lucas factories, BAC, Rolls-Royce and elsewhere. After the war, we ran down our defence industries very quickly, by millions of people, at the same time as we took more than 5 million men and women out of uniform and put them back into civilian occupations. There was a great buoyancy of demand, and people were starved of goods. That goes to show that if the overall economic climate is right, one may just as readily face a situation in which one stops making weapons because one does not need them, as one can face a situation in which a factory stops making hairpins because women have stopped using them. One gets changes in demand all the time, and industry is a very flexible instrument.
The hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Hamilton) mentioned the TSR2. I recall the debates on that aircraft. Everyone said that Preston would become a blighted town as a result of the cancellation of the TSR2. The Ministry of Labour, as it then was, sent special teams to Preston to deal with the frightful unemployment which it was thought would be caused by the cutting of the TSR2 programme. Within weeks, not one of the people who had been pushed off that programme was out of a job. The real problem that we face is that such changes as we are having to make, we have to make in a climate of economic non-buoyancy. That is what we should be looking at—not fiddling.
I recall the first General Election that I ever fought, in 1945. Perhaps hon. Members will bear with me while I make a point about what happened in that campaign. I was losing that election campaign—it was a safe Conservative seat—until all the candidates were invited to go to an aircraft factory just outside the constituency and talk to the workers about their future. We were all asked what we thought would be the future of the 6,500 people who were making aircraft which manifestly would not be wanted after the war. My Conservative opponent, who is unhappily no longer with us—a very fine man, for whom I had very great respect—said "I believe that we should keep everyone employed, even if it means that we build battleships, tow them out to sea, sink them and come back and build some more". He lost the election from that moment onwards because the Daily Mirror unkindly reported what he had said. That is what hon. Members are saying today.
Anyone who suggests that one should go on making arms because of the need to maintain employment is saying that one must make arms irrespective of whether one wants them or will use them. That is an absolutely untenable argument.
Surely the hon. Member has spent an inordinate amount of time destroying what is a stupid argument. No one in his right senses would argue that one should maintain defence merely to guarantee jobs. Surely the case for defence expenditure is based on prudence, and ensuring the security of the country. It comes down to that, and surely not a facetious argument.
I try never to be unkind to fellow Members, and I would hate to suggest that any one of them was not in his right mind. However, already today we have heard people saying that we must not cut arms expenditure, because that would create unemployment. Whether or not people are in their right minds is a matter on which the hon. and learned Gentleman may be a better judge. However, every country says the same thing. If one goes on maintaining that argument, one is in an arms race for all time.
I turn now to the Estimates. I should have been much quicker about it had I not been interrupted, and rudely interrupted, so much. Page 14 contains an item which has been increased substantially, mainly because of higher fares—which is understandable—and variations in exchange rates. Undoubtedly if one is to have men travelling abroad and one pays in sterling, one will have to pay more if there is a variation in exchange rates which is unfavourable to sterling. Other Departments have been told that they must maintain a cash stop. A cash figure is fixed, and they have to stick within that figure, no matter what variations occur in prices, salaries or exchange rates. What would happen if there were some civilian expenditure that involved imports? If a local authority bought an American computer—I hope that it would not, and that it would buy a British one—and if the authority had to continue to buy software, would it be exempted from the defined total cash limit and the cash stop, in order to give it a bit more money to cover the variations in the cost of the computer as a result of variations in the exchange rates? No, it jolly well would not. Why is this a factor which applies only to some Estimates?
I have another question. Over and over again, the explanation for increases is stated to be that they are "mainly" this, that or the other—"mainly" increased rates of pay, "mainly" higher charges, "mainly" other things. I ask the Minister to tell the House what is the other bit of it. If we are adequately to invigilate these accounts, we should know the whole story.
How big is "mainly"? Is it 60 per cent., or 51 per cent., or 70 per cent., or 80 per cent.? What does the other 20 per cent. or 30 per cent or 49 per cent. or 40 per cent. consist of? The facts are manifestly available or the Minstry would not have been able to say "mainly". Can we have the facts?
On page 15, there is shown a substantial increase in expenditure on "miscellaneous stores". What were they? A lot of money is involved. Were they weapons? I do not think that they can have been, because weapons are shown separately. What sort of stores were they? What attempts are made to do bulk purchase with other Departments of common stores? I have heard this aspect discussed in many debates on Civil and Defence Estimates. The potential for saving in this way is very great.
Why do Departments buy separately the identical things they need? They could obviously get economies of scale and the advantages of bulk purchase by buying them together. Every Department buys paper of different types. Why do Departments not all buy paper together? Why does the Ministry of Defence buy medical and dental stores separately from the National Health Service? Ought there not to be some attempt to get some economies to make up for increased prices by doing common purchasing?
Page 16 shows a very large increase, amounting to well over 20 per cent., in rents and other charges "other than married quarters". What are they? What are we paying rent for, other than in respect of married quarters, which goes up by over 20 per cent. in a year? May we be told?
Our expenditure on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has gone up by 17 per cent. What is it for? What do we get for this £18½ million extra? Who gets paid out of it? Is it the soldiers? Or is it spent on weapons of war? If we are serious about controlling Government expenditure, we ought to know these facts, because £18½ million is a lot of money. Many things have been cut out of Government expenditure which would have cost a great deal less. What is this money being spent on? Who is getting what out of it?
Turning to page 36 prompts me to ask about cash limits. Two items of hardware expenditure are shown there which have increased between them by no less than £70 million. It is part of a very large hardware expenditure. Other people buy hardware. Civilian Departments buy it. They have been told that they have to keep within a total fixed cash limit, and if the price of each unit of hardware has gone up 5 per cent., say, they have to manage with 5 per cent. fewer units. Why does that apply in these other cases but not in this one?
Again, there may be good reasons—I am only asking because it is my duty to do so—why the payments to Rolls-Royce (1971) Limited exceed the estimate by 50 per cent. Someone was not a very good estimator, was he? If an estimator in industry made an estimate that was that much out, he would quickly get it in the neck. The offsetting receipts were correctly estimated and the outturn is the same as the budget, but the payments have been underestimated, being 150 per cent. of what was estimated. Why? What were these payments? How did this substantial error in estimating come about?
I apologise for having taken so long. I shall quote only one other example, although I assure the House that I could quote many more. There is an item headed
Contract Repair for Ships and Vessels".
Every other organisation has contract repair. Local authorities have contract repair of their electrical installations and their dustcarts. A river authority has contract repair of its locks and other systems. Every organisation of any size goes in for contract repair.
The estimate in this case was wildly wrong. The outturn was 24½ per cent. above the estimate. I would like to know what monitoring is done of these repairs and of the rates of charge for them. If the head of a maintenance department in a factory who had a budget for maintaining the machinery and equipment said, at the end of the year, "I put it out to contract a year ago but I need 24½ per cent. more money than I asked for then", he would not last five minutes.
I want to know more about all this. I hope that the Minister will be able to give the House some assistance on these matters.
I end as I began. I hope that no one will feel resentment that hon. Members are looking very closely at all these estimates, because it is not merely our right but our solemn duty, and one of the most important duties that we are here to carry out.
In what the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) himself described as a lengthy speech, he said that defence expenditure was a sacred cow. I do not know where he has been during the last three years. defence expenditure during that time has been cut or planned to be cut by more than £8,000 million, and there will be more cuts tomorrow.
The Chief of the Defence Staff pointed out about a year ago that
We have been through a long, searching examination…not just by the Ministry of Defence but on an inter-departmental basis, and as a result of that we have already made…a very large contribution to the reduction of public expenditure. We've been through the examination and we should not be put through the examination again.
Since then there have been at least two more cuts. But what the Chief of the Defence Staff said was right—defence has been examined much more than any other Department. To say, therefore, that defence expenditure is a sacred cow can very nearly be described by a word that the hon. Gentleman used in his speech but which I would not dream of repeating. I will simply say that it is untrue.
The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) said that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow was spending a lot of time knocking down an argument—that weapons should be made for employment's sake—which is used by very few people other than by some Labour Members. We believe that weapons should be made for the defence of the country and of the West. But that is not the view of a number of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite. It is true that defence expenditure has considerable implications for employment, and it is a matter of some remark that, whereas Labour Members below the Gangway are quite rightly anxious about unemployment in every other sector, they seem to welcome it in the defence industries.
I have heard the right hon. Member, like so many of his hon. Friends, constantly repeating this. It is untrue that Labour Members below the Gangway are not concerned with the defence of this country and are not concerned with protecting our country's interests. Many of us served right through the last world war. Many of us have served in the Armed Forces, playing our part in the defence of our country. What the hon. Gentleman is saying is quite untrue and it is a deliberate smear. He and his hon. Friends continue to repeat the suggestion that because Labour Members are concerned about cutting defence expenditure they are not concerned about the defence of the country.
I have no criticism of the hon. Gentleman's war record. I can later substantiate the remarks I just made by one or two quotations from a source not a million miles away from the hon. Gentleman. I see that the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas) has now gone. He and the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow, and the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun)—whom I respect—are signatories to this motion. This sort of motion is tabled every year, and in most cases the signatories melt away. But the hon. Member for Salford, East is always there to defend his signature and to make his speech. I am sorry that on this occasion I am speaking before he does and not after. However, to say that defence workers could be redeployed in other industries when we have 1½ million unemployed is fatuous rubbish. Not only do we have 1½ million unemployed; all the forecasts are that that figure will grow. To suggest that by creating more unemployment in defence industries these people will be easily deployed and found jobs elsewhere is untrue.
I quote from the Tribune document, published in the summer:
We recognise the need to provide alternative socially useful work for all those at present employed in the armed services or employed in military or defence establishments—indeed, we see the redeployment of technology and skills to civil production as a substantial potential strengthening of the economy.
As long as we have high unemployment, that is arrant hypocrisy. There is no possibility of its happening.
Labour Members below the Gangway are speaking on a motion to knock off £270 million from the defence budget. Labour Members will be aware that the former Defence Secretary said, in the holy writ of Labour Weekly of 11th June this year, that:
Any reduction, even of much less than £1,000 million a year…would require savage cuts in the armed forces and many big equipment orders would have to be cancelled. Our Allies would no longer regard us as serious allies and partners. The disarray that would be caused in the NATO Alliance would place at risk the whole security of Europe, not least our own. Our enemies would be able to take advantage of our weaknesses. To achieve such a reduction would entail a major foreign policy change. Our relations with the United States and with the West Germans would deteriorate badly. We would risk unravelling the NATO Alliance and destroying the security which we gain through it. The effect on our financial credit and on economic and trade relations would be incalculable.
That is one view and that goes part of the way to answering the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Helfer). When we consider, as we must, that defence has already been cut by £8,000 million and then we read what the Tribune Group—I think that all the signatories to this amendment are members of the Tribune Group—
I am sorry to blackguard those who are not, but I am afraid I do not know which ones are not members. I think that nearly all of them are. It is interesting that so many of them represent constituencies in which there are defence industries. For instance, how can either the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Atkins) or the hon. Member for Preston, South (Mr. Thorne) sign a motion like this, knowing full well that they will throw a large number of their constituents out of work? The same applies to the hon. Member for Salford, East.
A short time ago the right hon. Gentleman accused Labour Members of wanting to cut down on defence, regardless. I was a soldier, and was wounded in the last war. The right hon. Gentleman should take note that I come from Sheffield, where the organised working people are behind what I am trying to do—the right hon. Gentleman can check up on this. They know, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) pointed out at some length and quite correctly, that it is not beyond the wit of man to move workers away from producing these weapons of slaughter on to constructive work, when the whole world is panting out for consumer goods. That does not mean that we are refusing one iota to defend our country. Labour Members want to defend their country on all occasions.
I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman's war record, but I repeat that we cannot redeploy people when we have 1½ million unemployed.
For the hon. Member to say that he is concerned about defence when he goes out of his way to cut defence spending is totally inconsistent. Some hon. Members—for instance the hon. Member for Bristol, North-West—could hardly fail to be affected by considerable cuts in defence expenditure. Apart from denuding this country's defence, Labour Members are seeking to put their constituents out of work.
I do not find it admirable. When I was a Minister some Labour Members came to me to ask for increases in defence orders to save employment. I said that it would mean an increase in the defence budget, whereupon they replied that they did not want that but preferred their constituents to be unemployed. I do not find that admirable.
I return to the Tribune document, which is the answer to the question of the hon. Member for Walton:
In the long run, however, it is our view that British defence expenditure should be related to the pursuit of a socialist foreign policy, and there is a contradiction between many of the aims outlined in the document
—that is Labour's programme for 1976, which is idiotic enough—
and the fundamental commitment, accepted by all British Governments for the past quarter of a century, to NATO and other military alliances. These are designed to achieve security and stability for existing régimes which are situated within the western sphere of influence. This end is in many cases incompatible with support for movements seeking to achieve radical social change… We do not believe that Britain can any longer justify remaining a member either of SEATO or CENTO, and in the absence of positive steps towards mutual and concurrent phasing out of NATO we consider that Britain should progressively reduce her commitment to NATO. On economic grounds alone, Britain cannot indefinitely continue to shoulder the burden of maintaining BAOR, to which she is committed as a member of this alliance. The adoption of this policy would represent a decisive shift in the direction of nonalignment in international affairs.
That is the final answer to the hon. Member for Walton. Anyone who wants to take this country out of the Western alliance when Russia is increasing its defences every year is not interested in the defence of this country or of the West. As my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (Mr. Hamilton) said, these continual cuts are not in the national interest, or the interests of our defence or our economy. They are purely sops to Labour Members below the Gangway.
The Secretary of State said this afternoon—I am sorry that he is not here now; I beg his pardon, he is present. I was about to say that I will not be able to remain for the remainder of the debate—
I am sorry that I was not here at the beginning of the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I was attending a meeting with representatives of the defence industry which I broke off as soon as I saw the right hon. Gentleman's name on the television screen.
I am extremely grateful for the Secretary of State's courtesy. I was apologising that, for reasons of which he will be aware, I shall be unable to remain for all of the debate. I apologise to the Minister of State and to all other hon. Members who will be speaking. I was disturbed by what the Secretary of State said about the Chiefs of Staff. Surely, he should realise that it is not the job of the Chiefs of Staff to resign; it is the job of the Chiefs of Staff to put their views forward as forcibly as they can, which is what they have done, and then to accept the policy of the Government if they can stomach it. It is not their job to resign, it is the Secretary of State's job to resign. To try to pass the burden of the Government's misdeeds on to the Chiefs of Staff is quite unworthy of him and I hope that he will withdraw that part of his remarks before very long.
The right hon. Gentleman seemed to admit, not handsomely, but honestly, I think, that he had concealed the cuts that are to be made tomorrow from our NATO Allies when he saw them only a few days ago. That is bad for him and for the country. The allies do not like being treated like that. If he wishes to preserve open and honest dealing with the NATO Alliance he should have told the allies the worst.
We ought to get the record straight on this. The detailed package which my right hon. Friend is to present tomorrow was not concluded until after the meetings I had with my colleagues in NATO. I hope, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman will withdraw that remark.
Did the right hon. Gentleman tell his colleagues that the cuts were to be made? Obviously he could not give the details if he did not know exactly what they were, but he could have warned them that the cuts were to be made. From his silence I take it that he did not warn them, and I think he would agree that my original point stands.
Since the Secretary of State for Defence saw fit to intervene during my right hon. Friend's speech, does my right hon. Friend not think that it would be appropriate to give the Secretary of State an opportunity to tell the House when he proposes to inform our NATO Allies of the further and grievous defence cuts to which he has shamefully agreed?
I hope that the Minister of State will deal with that pertinent point when he replies to the debate.
This is the fifth time that the Government have made defence cuts. The Russians are expanding far more than we ever thought possible. These cuts come at a time when we are being warned by General Haig and every competent observer that the Western Alliance is not in good shape. Our allies are spending more making themselves stronger to deal with this bigger threat yet what do we do? We get weaker and weaker. It is particularly disgraceful to make these cuts now. They arise largely because of pressure on the Government from the Labour left wing. As the hon. Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) said yesterday, that is what the Cabinet has been concerned with—not the national interest but what they can get past Labour Members below the Gangway. Those hon. Members, as the Secretary of State knows well, do not basically believe in the defence of this country.
The cuts are particularly wrong at this time, because the point of public expenditure cuts is to increase foreign confidence in the pound. The Secretary of State and all Labour Members know full well that these defence cuts will not do that, simply because they will show foreign observers that Labour Members below the Gangway still have an inordinate influence on the Government.
Therefore, not only are these cuts extremely damaging to the defence of this country; they do not even achieve their objective of ensuring financial solvency. I hope that the Secretary of State will reconsider his position, and I hope that he has done at least all that he can to mitigate the damage that the Chancellor seems to be doing. It is deplorable that the Government should be cutting defence expenditure again, and it is ironical that they should be resisting the cuts proposed by Labour Members below the Gangway. I see the point of what those Labour Members are doing, given their views. I hope that the Minister of State will be able to explain to the House why his hon. Friends are wrong today and how the Government will be right tomorrow. I do not see how that can be done.
The speech of the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour), and, indeed, all of the contributions from the Tory Benches, have demonstrated how barren is the attitude of the Conservative Party on these matters. Those speeches must have fortified the belief of the Labour movement that the British people are not likely to return a Conservative Administration. The reality, which has been evident in the speeches of Tory Members, is that they do not realise that they are living in 1976. They have entirely missed the bus. They do not understand the mood of the younger generation. They live in a bygone age.
Tory Members do not seem to realise that in the last war Britain and Russia fought on the same side. If that had not been so, it would have been bad for us. If, in a future war, we are not on the same side again, it will be equally bad for us. It is true that the Russians are building up a great defensive armoury, mainly concentrated on land forces. In the West, NATO and the American allies are building up a massive defensive nuclear strike capacity. That is what life is all about in the world today. The conclusions which have been drawn in the speeches of my hon. Friends below the Gangway are the long-held conclusions of the Labour movement, which is the progressive content in British society. It is absolutely nonsense for Britain to be engaged in defence on this scale.
I want to devote most of my remarks to the interrogatory attitude envinced by my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo). I decry the foolish interventions of the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit). They showed that he is greatly deficient in his understanding of this subject, as he is on many other matters. He made a crude intervention during my hon. Friend's speech. His attitude toward the Soviet Union is well known to any discerning mind, as is his passionate attachment to democratic liberty. My hon. Friend was too kind to deal adequately with the hon. Member. I am not so kind, and not so inclined.
These Estimates are worthy of far more serious consideration. I am surprised that Tory Members are not as diligent in their probing of these items of expenditure as we are. They are certainly diligent in all other respects. The primary rôle of the House is to inquire into such matters. This stems from the fact that the Prime Minister is the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor the Second Lord of the Treasury. I often think that in this Government we have a Third Lord of the Treasury, in my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The strength of the British Parliament has stemmed from its interrogatory powers and its ability to probe aspects of Government expenditure.
I hope that the Minister of State will give a full reply to all the points that have been raised. I look for some answers to the questions about movements in pay increases for the Armed Forces. I would not wish to probe such increases in depth if it can be shown that they are in line with the general movement of pay increases in industry. However, we know that when there is rigid State interference in the movement of pay—something with which I and my close Friends on the Labour side of the House disagree—we encounter all sorts of difficulties. Many devices are used to get round the resulting rigidity. I would like to hear more about this expenditure as it relates to promotions in the Army.
The hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles) said that he welcomed the fact that the door of No. 10 was open to brass hats—that is my expression, not his—who are concerned about the defence cuts which may result from the IMF negotiations. It is right that they should avail themselves of that democratic facility, but if they want to make public statements they should be prepared for public debate and not simply make noises and run away. That has been one attribute of brass hats in the past: when they have had something to say about Government policy, they have not wanted to engage in public debate.
The decision should not rest just with the brass hats. Many of us have proposed that soldiers should have the same democratic rights as any other citizen, including the right to join a union. So should the police. They should scrub their "house organisation", the Police Federation. Tomorrow, the Police Federation is to lobby this House—
I agree that an allusion to the Police Federation is out of order. I was trying to show the similarity between these two groups.
The members of the Armed Forces should have the freedom of say-so as well. What Conservative Members have said today is a gross travesty of the truth. Those of us who reflect the attitudes of conferences of the Labour movement, which express the thoughts of the grass roots of the British people, are not against the defence of this country. We are seriously attached to our defence. We have proposed the concept of a people's army and of defending our country street by street if necessary. It is we who say that the semi-global defence rôle of Britain is totally unrealistic. This is all based on the concept of the Soviet threat, which is absolute balderdash.
What happened in the Soviet Union was the result of totally different historical circumstances. As things progress, it is ridiculous to believe that Eastern or Western European States will slavishly follow the pattern in any other country. That is a misreading of history. If the Soviet Union is to retreat from its present military posture, there has to be a quid pro quo. It has to be done by international agreements; it cannot be done by a return to the cold war psychosis. That is why the majority of our people reject the attitudes shown by Conservative Members and similar attitudes evinced in the Labour movement
The right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour) talked about cuts to the tune of £8 million. That is chicken feed in the face of a defence programme of £6,000 million. A far greater sum is involved in these Estimates. When we are on the verge of cutting the social wage, the health services and the local authority services, threatening people's whole standard of living, it is absolute nonsense to pass these Estimates without the closest scrutiny. Without the amendment, there probably would have been no debate today.
On that basis, one might as well argue—I do not know how many surface battleships and submarines we have—that we should double, triple or quadruple the number of submarines at Holy Loch in order to cut down the1½ million unemployed. No intelligent Socialist would make such a suggestion. We want to switch those resources into productive enterprise.
Our approach is fortified by a recent Press release by the British Institute of Management, which says:
The forthcoming package of economic measures should comprise an integrated programme that relates the proposed cuts in public expenditure to prospects for export-led growth in the light of world trade developments and the UK's increasing competitive position; to a programme for returning to higher rewards for skill and responsibility and a reduction in personal income tax rates".
We believe in higher rewards as well, but they have to be related to proper endeavour by the wage-and salary-earning workers. We also want to see a reduction in personal income tax, but we shall not get it by increasing defence expenditure. That would mean an increase in taxation when we should be bringing our defence expenditure into line with that of our industrial competitors.
The Press release also refers to
practical encouragement of productive investment.
We must carry out the policy of the Labour Party by means of the National Enterprise Board and planning agreements so that the Government can supervise the British economy and its productive enterprise.
The BIM emphasises this point in a letter to the Prime Minister, sent on behalf of its 52,000 members by its Chairman, Sir Derek Ezra. It states :
Recent reports have centred on different views about the size of cuts in non-productive expenditure".
That is what this debate is all about. The debate on the totality of public expenditure cuts will range far wider, but those words should relate specifically to defence expenditure. Conservative Members show a totally unrealistic attitude towards this matter.
The letter talks about the size of cuts
said to be necessary to reduce the level of Government's public sector borrowing requirement".
Part of that requirement is related to the borrowing requirement that is needed to sustain our totally artificial level of defence spending. There has been no real defence cut when one considers the global size of the expenditure and the effects of inflation.
The BIM letter goes on to say:
We support the aim of reducing wherever possible non-productive expenditure and the present level of public sector borrowing.
I agree with that entirely.
I do not suppose that the British Institute of Management believes that it is necessarily expert in defence matters. I do not believe that I am a defence expert, but I know a bit about the subject having listened to defence debates in the House. However, I know the Labour movement's policy and I welcome the fact that there are now signs and symptoms within the Government that we are moving towards it.
I welcome the opportunity to highlight two important matters in Northern Ireland, which is the one part of the United Kingdom that is now under attack. We have heard about various situations around the world but we must remember that there is a most serious situation within the United Kingdom.
The first matter to highlight is that the three defence establishments have been axed. Northern Ireland is a strategic part of the United Kingdom that cannot be sacrificed. It is not a part that can be left out of the overall defence strategy of the realm. Sometimes I think that the strategic value of Northern Ireland to the United Kingdom is almost forgotten. It should be remembered that during the Second World War tribute was paid to the Province when the U-boat campaign was at its height. It was because of the loyalty of Northern Ireland towards the rest of the United Kingdom that a base was able to be operated effectively to keep open the Atlantic Ocean during the war. The man who led this country, the grandfather of the Opposition defence spokesman now on the Front Bench, the hon. Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill), paid high tribute at that time to the people of Northern Ireland.
If we look at a map of the United Kingdom, we see that there are defence establishments in every part of the country except the area that is under attack. Nevertheless, the decision is taken to axe the naval depot at Antrim, which borders on my constituency and the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, South (Mr. Molyneaux), the Leader of the United Ulster Unionists, the RAF station at Aldergrove and the establishment at Sydenham.
No provision was made in the axing of the three establishments to prepare the workers so that they would be able to take up suitable employment elsewhere. Although I do not go along with the arguments presented by some Labour Members, I feel that when establishments are closed down there should be a phasing-out period so that the workers have other jobs to take up. The present situation in Northern Ireland is that they are thrown on the scrap heap. There is little possibility of some of the people who were working in the defence establishments ever being employed again. I must emphasise that I believe that work in the establishments could continue to be done. At this time it is a tragedy that in the defence of the realm Northern Ireland is the only part of the kingdom that does not have back-up defence services. Surely at this stage there is a great need for such services.
The second matter to highlight is the Ulster Defence Regiment. Yesterday in Belfast and around the Province we had a very serious situation. It may surprise some hon. Members to know that from 11.20 a.m. to 9.21 p.m. there were 26 serious incidents in Belfast and the rest of Northern Ireland. At 11.20 a.m. shots were fired at the staff of the Lansdowne Court Hotel in the Antrim Road as gunmen fled after planting two bombs. The premises were destroyed and gutted by explosion and fire. At 12.30 p.m. there was a raid at Hall's brush factory and a 23-year-old polio victim who did not run fast enough was shot dead in his tracks. At the end of the day the IRA gloried in the fact that it was responsible for this disgraceful wave of terrorism.
A bomb exploded at Ormeau Bridge at 3 p.m. At 3.5 p.m. a man was shot in the legs as two gunmen planted a suspect bomb at Riteprice's store in Duncairn Gardens. Four bombs blitzed the town of Bellaghy, which is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Ulster (Mr. Dunlop).
I am sure that my hon. Friend will be aware that the little town of Bellaghy has about 800 inhabitants and that four savage bomb attacks have completely devastated the business area of the town. Those attacks have left the town with hardly any services over the Christmas season. As well as the great damage that has been done, there is the undermining of the morale of the people. Where is the defence of this realm when a small town can be attacked with such ferocity, when it does not seem that there is any way of protecting or defending it?
I am sure that we all feel for my hon. Friend when he visited the town last night and saw it blasted by the bombs that went off within 15 minutes of one another, completely wrecking the whole business sector.
The UDR has been coming under serious attack. One by one its members are being shot down. My colleagues and I had a meeting with one of the Army Ministers. We were seriously disturbed to hear the question of finance raised when we asked that steps would be taken so that UDR men might be personally protected. Members of the regiment do a day's work and then go on the roads of Northern Ireland to stand between people in all sections of the community and the enemy.
If it is a matter of finance, as I have said before we are prepared to have cuts in other sectors of the economy so that members of the UDR may be given proper protection in their homes as well as proper protection for their families. If there is a lack of finance, I feel that finance must be made available from other sources. How can the war be fought if the sinews of war are not available to the members of the Ulster Defence Regiment? These are matters that are in the minds and hearts of Ulster Members.
When Members from other areas return to their constituencies for the Christmas Recess, we in the Unionist coalition will probably return to follow the coffins of our constituents. We shall be standing over graves. We shall be watching the tears of widows and orphans. We shall do so having been told about financial priorities. I plead with the House to make the money available so that the men fighting the war in Northern Ireland will have the personal protection that they deserve. I make that plea on their behalf as an elected representative from Ulster.
I wish to deal with the arrant nonsense that is being talked about "further" cuts in defence spending. It is false and misleading, whether or not it is deliberate. The arms bill, in real terms, has gone up, not down, as I shall show.
I refer to the utterances this afternoon of the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, and on other occasions of Lord Carrington, Lord Chalfont, the right hon. Member for Barnsley (Mr. Mason)—until recently the Secretary of State for Defence—the Chiefs of Staff, NATO officials, the Daily Telegraph, The Times and others.
The cuts thought to be coming tomorrow are said to follow cuts already made of £4 billion. The right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour) actually said today that £8 billion had been cut in the past three years. The truth is that there have been no cuts in the total arms bill. In fact, there has been an increase in both cash and real terms.
I have today secured the following figures from the statisticians of the House of Commons Library Research Department. Those figures show that military expenditure increased from £3,092 million in 1971–72 to £6,144 million for the current year at current prices. At fixed prices—1975 survey prices—there has been an increase from £4,540 million in 1971–72 to £4,548 million last year. It is true that that is an increase of only £8 million in real terms. However, there has been a far bigger increase in real spending this year following the latest supplementary estimate, on which the statisticians comment that it is not possible to make a realistic estimate in real terms—presumably because of uncertainty about the exact degree of inflation.
I repeat, there has been an increase in that period in real terms of £8 million, and of £3 billion in cash terms, and a further and much larger real increase in spending this year. Let us hear no more nonsense about further cuts in arms spending when there has been none.
The reduction claimed by the gentlemen I have named are completely spurious, and they must know that, because they are not fools. The trick is this. The only reduction that has taken place is in what might have been spent, had the wild and grandiose increases proposed in 1973 for the next 10 years by the Conservative Government in a very different economic atmosphere been implemented.
It is contrary to common sense, humanity and Labour policy to accept this huge Supplementary Estimate of £517 million when savage cuts in housing, health, education and social services are being sought and pressed for by the Establishment.
Does the hon. Gentleman accept, by the same token, that the proposed cuts in other areas are also cuts in future programmes? Did not his hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) resign because she believed that the cuts in education were actual cuts, whereas cuts in defence are apparently not cuts?
I understand the hon. Gentleman's point. My hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Miss Lestor) is perfectly capable of answering for herself.
The cuts that we are thought to be about to suffer tomorrow are not merely cuts in potential expenditure. Some of them are real cuts in housing and education. We already have the July announcement which requires council housing to be cut by one-third for the remainder of this year and by a further 25 per cent. next year, compared with this year.
It is only fair to keep my speech short.
Reflected in these Supplementary Estimates are huge increases in military research and development, which employ two out of every three Government scientists, who are badly needed in other spheres; in the cost of BAOR, which now costs £600 million across the exchanges and 40 per cent. in real terms in the cost of each MRCA aircraft, as admitted by the Minister.
If, tomorrow, the arms cuts are, as rumoured, only £100 million or £200 million, they will be purely cosmetic and unacceptable to many of us who want real cuts. These spurious reductions can be achieved by phasing. Any accountant worth his pay can show hon. Members how to do it. It can be done by delaying the purchase of certain stores and munitions. These cuts will not mean a real cut in comparison with the £6 billion expenditure.
The armaments lobby daily attempts to scare us by talk of the red menace and by accounts of Soviet military might. I dislike that probably even more than do the British militarists. But is the lobby blind to the American military programme? According to the Pentagon, NATO exceeds the Warsaw Powers in total military spending, naval strength and total manpower. Hon. Members must ask themselves what is the good of being militarily powerful and economically bankrupt. How will it improve our financial position to increase our military spending?
I am sorry; I cannot. It is not that I want to dodge questions. My hon. Friend knows me well enough to realise that.
It would be far better for the workers who might be affected—and for the country—if they were engaged on making the highly sophisticated machine tools which they are particularly suited to make and and which, at present, we are importing in large quantities from America, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and other countries.
I said I would speak only for five minutes, and I shall keep to that.
Conservative Members do not seem to be worried about causing unemployment for building workers, teachers, nurses, home helps and others. For the reasons that I have mentioned, I intend to vote for the motion.
The hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) spoke about reality. I want to give him and the House some reality from the Conservative Benches. The debate is not about the generalised question of how much we should spend on defence and what proportion of the GNP it should be; it is a debate on a motion to reduce the specific sums of money that are needed during the current financial year.
I would have found the arguments put forward by the proposers of the motion much more consistent—although still totally unacceptable—if they had suggested that the total sum sought by the Government should not be granted. Instead, they have gone carefully down the list and decided how they will reduce the figure by £272 million.
If we examine the list in the summary, we can calculate which items Labour Members below the Gangway have singled out. They have decided that it is important that the pay and allowances of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel should go ahead. They also believe that Armed Forces retirement pay and pensions, and also the pay of civilians, should go ahead. They should look a little more closely at the items that they intend to cut. We are not talking about generalities, but specific instances.
If we examine Subhead 5, "Stores, Supplies and Miscellaneous Services", we find a sum of £58 million. That sum is bound up with various items, including travel allowances and expenses of Service personnel and civilians, increased rates of allowances, furniture and various other purchases. I wonder how Service men and their families will regard the proposals in the amendment, which will have the effect of virtually cutting out their travel allowances for the rest of this year. Furthermore, expenses of civilians will also be cut out.
The amendment will also affect medical and dental stores, and certain educational services. Therefore, those Labour Members in framing their amendment have not looked at the subject as carefully as they should have done. They are proposing that all these things should be cut out.
Canteens and hospitals for civilian staff will go, as will clothing allowances. If we look at Subhead 7 we see under "Headquarters Administration" a figure of 6,418 staff. Under the amendment not only will they be pruned but will receive no increases for some time.
The hon. Gentleman reinforces the point that I was making. Nobody is proposing that Service men who travel should not have their expenses, and the same applies to the civilian staff. What we are saying is that there should be fewer staff and that they should travel less. Nobody is proposing that there should be no canteens or hospitals. The National Health Service is having to keep its services in this respect to a fixed total. Why is such a facility being afforded only in the defence sphere? Why is defence being excluded from the upper limit?
The hon. Gentleman should have thought more about these matters before he appended his name to the amendment. The amendment covers the items which I have mentioned and says, not that they should be queried, but that they should be cut out. I want to ensure that those who read these debates are clear what is intended by hon. Members below the Gangway and what they would support.
Furthermore, in regard to married quarters, dealt with in Subhead 11, those same hon. Gentlemen do not want to see any expenditure there. I wonder how this will go down in the dockyards at Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth? Some Labour Members are inviting us to vote against salaries and wages in respect of increases as well as travel allowances and all the rest of it.
In view of the presence of the Deputy Chief Whip, it is important for hon. Members all to be brief.
I oppose the amendment for three reasons. First, I believe that our Armed Forces have already been dangerously run down. Secondly, I believe that the threat to our country is great and growing. Thirdly, I believe that if there are any further cuts we shall put at risk the Alliance, including our relationships with the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany. The whole House knows that our forces—whether it be the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy or the Army—are now at a perilously low level. [Interruption.]
I am obliged to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The level of our Armed Forces is becoming critical. The credibility of any nation's armed forces needs to be measured in three ways. First, they should be credible to the men and women who serve in them. There are many loyal members of our Armed Forces, but today they have doubts about whether the equipment and the scale of their formations are adequate for the job which they are asked to do. Secondly, the forces need to be credible to our allies. I was ashamed the other day when the United States Supreme Commander NATO had to move an armoured brigade from South Germany because the British Army of the Rhine no longer could be guaranteed to fulfil its rôle in the Alliance. If there were to be further cuts, it would throw doubts on the credibility of the British forces in the eyes of our allies.
Above all, our forces must be credible to the enemy. Yet at this point in time, the Soviet Union—while impoverishing its people in terms of consumer goods, houses and in other respects, continues massively to increase its second-strike nuclear weapons and conventional armaments of all kinds, in particular its navy. In these circumstances, further reductions in the British Armed Forces will leave them incredible in the eyes of our major antagonists.
I have suggested that further reductions in our Armed Forces will have an unacceptable impact on our allies. I have spent many years in the United States, and I wish to make one point clear. At present in the United States there is a clear commitment by both political parties to the NATO Alliance. But this commitment could be put at risk if American public opinion were to come to believe that its British allies were not willing to carry their share of the common defence burden.
If Her Majesty's Government continue to reduce the level of the British Armed Forces, it will become less possible for the political parties in the United States to carry American public opinion with them in retaining the United States commitment to the defence of NATO and Europe. Any Government should think carefully before they put at risk the American commitment.
One fear among the Tribune Group rightly relates to its worries about a rearmed Germany, which may destabilise central Europe. The Russians fear that more than anything else. But if Britain continues to run down its contribution to the NATO Alliance there will be pressures on the German Government to fill the gap—and who can blame them?
The Germans are only two hours' tank drive away from the Soviet army. Therefore, if the Germans start to fill the gap by building up their armed forces to meet the deficiency left by the British, we could well find ourselves in a Europe which is dominated by a new, powerful and eventually nuclear-armed Bundeswehr. I cannot believe that any hon. Members on the left wing of the Labour Party really wish to bring that about.
To sum up, if further cuts are made they will reduce the level of the British armed forces to a point where they will cease to be credible; they will encourage the Soviet Union; and they will be the despair of our Allies. I beg the House to vote against this mischievous amendment.
I am at some slight disadvantage this afternoon because my right hon. Friend the Chancellor will make a statement tomorrow, about which there have been a great many rumours and a great deal of speculation in the Press. I am unable to reply in the terms suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) as to the nature of the cuts to be announced by the Chancellor, and whether these will be real cuts. We will all have to wait until tomorrow to find out.
It may be helpful if right from the beginning I clear up a major misunderstanding which seems to have developed in the minds of some of my hon. Friends. It is not the case that the defence budget is immune from cash limits. Like any civil Department, we are subject to cash limits and even these Supplementary Estimates still leave us below our cash limits for this year. I hope that my hon. Friends will accept my assurance on that point.
The reason for the Supplementary Estimates is almost exclusively the impact of price increases in this country and the effect of the change in the sterling exchange rates. My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Mikardo) asked whether the Ministry of Defence, alone of all Departments, was exempt from the effects of depreciation in the sterling exchange rates. So far we have not been exempt from such depreciation. In fact, my Department suffers from the reductions in the foreign exchange value of sterling almost exclusively as regards Government spending. No other Department of State has been affected to anything like the same degree as the Ministry of Defence by changes in the sterling exchange rate. Up to now we have succeeded in covering that under our cash limits, but I cannot forecast the eventual outcome for the remainder of the financial year. That will depend on future movements in exchange rates, and I am not so rash as to try to predict those.
I do not think that any of my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench have ever tried to defend defence expenditure in terms that it preserves employment. All of us—on both sides of the House—would greatly prefer to have much less defence expenditure. There is no hon. Member who could not find better things to spend public money on than defence, if we could only justify it to ourselves in terms of the defence of this realm. The hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson) made this point succinctly.
This point was referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun) who spoke of the use of resources and the deployment of manpower in appropriate ways. Tomorrow at noon a deputation of Liverpool and Merseyside Members will meet the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy, and speak with shop stewards from Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Limited, whose order book expires around 1977. The firm has not a cat in hell's chance of getting any civilian orders, and is asking urgently for defence expenditure for a new frigate. I am told by some of my hon. Friends that defence cuts mean nothing and I am told by the Government that this is one of the difficulties of asking for more shipbuilding for Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Limited. I do not expect an answer today, but this will have a relationship to what we say tomorrow.
I am obliged to my hon. Friend for giving me notice of what he intends to say on his visit tomorrow. It is true that in the long run one can convert manufacturing of any type of goods into manufacturing of a different type of goods.
We all wish that we could spend less on defence, but it would be irresponsible of any Government to make any major reductions in our defence spending outside the context of the mutual and balanced force reductions. This is the environment in which we must take our decisions.
I was asked several factual points by my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow. He asked about the NATO subscription. The costs which he reads in the requests for Supplementary Estimates relate to the costs of NATO headquarters, which have risen almost exclusively with the decline of the sterling exchange rate. Rent for service clubs and institutions in Germany is included under that Vote.
My hon. Friend also asked about Rolls-Royce and the enormous increase there. As I understand it, at the beginning of each year a nominal sum is put in for payments on the RB211. It is not possible, when the original payment is drawn up, to know the production rate of engines at the beginning of the year. The payments made to Rolls-Royce are refunded in due course, and the Government receive a share of the profits on the sale of the engines.
My hon. Friend asked about Votes 11 and 12. Vote 11 provides the entire defence works programme at home and abroad, and expenditure on things such as runway maintenance and domestic accommodation for the Services. A great deal of the expenditure is on the staff of the Property Services Agency, and the Supplementary Estimates cover the £6 a week pay rise for those staff. Vote 12, which is a new vote introduced this year to bring together expenditure on the Royal dockyards, covers both Service and civilian staff, and the Supplementary Estimate for these people includes the £6 a week pay rise.
My hon. Friend raised various other questions. I will write to him about them as soon as possible.
I had not concluded my speech. I was about to say that all our expenditure is subject to cash limits. There are two exclusions which I should mention—pensions, and I am sure that most of my hon. Friends would welcome that, and the salaries of the PSA staff which are subject to the cash limits of the Department of the Environment.
As for Porton, I listened to the scenario which the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Hamilton) drew with increasing bewilderment. I cannot see that the sort of thing he has in mind is in any way a realistic threat about which we should be concerned at the moment—
I have given way to the hon. Gentleman once. I cannot do so again.
The defence staff at Porton has a most distinguished record and I would be the first to pay tribute to it. I join the hon. Gentleman in expressing our relief at the recovery of his constituent from the extremely dangerous disease that he was apparently stricken with. For some time now about two-thirds of the work of the Microbiological Research Establishment at Porton has been done on civilian account and has had nothing to do with the Ministry of Defence. It is our considered view that with the rundown of work there it would be appropriate to wind up that establishment as a separate element at the Ministry of Defence establishment at Porton. My saying that in no way implies any criticism of the extremely valuable work that has been done there over the past many years.
The hon. Gentleman is experienced enough in the ways of Government to know that my right hon. Friend will have been following the normal precedents in these matters. My right hon. Friend knows precisely what they are in terms of communicating to other Governments when economic statements are made in this House. He is perfectly well aware of the precedents, and it is beneath the hon. Gentleman to make cheap political capital in this way. My right hon. Friend is much too sophisticated in these matters.
Is it not accepted practice that there is consultation with our allies before cuts of this sort are announced? Does not the hon. Gentleman recall a passage from the Labour Party manifesto of October 1974 which reads:
we shall, in consultation with our Allies, press forward with our plans to reduce the proportion of the nation's resources devoted to defence"?
Where was that consultation? The Secretary of State was honest enough to admit at the Dispatch Box today that he concealed this from our NATO Allies at his meeting last week, even though he knew that the defence cuts were coming within a matter of days. He was not prepared to give any advance consultation at all. So what is the consultation which the Government propose?
Will the Minister of State clear up the suggestion by the Secretary of State that there is nothing unusual or unprecedented about the Chiefs of the Defence Staff coming together and seeking a meeting with the Prime Minister? It is unprecedented in peace time since 1921.
I hope that I have made it clear to my hon. Friends that the Supplementary Estimates do not involve additional spending beyond its cash limits by the Ministry of Defence, that the Ministry of Defence is subject to cash limits like any other Department, and that it is currently beneath its cash limit. I see no inconsistency in advising my hon. Friends that, if the amendment were carried, there would be enormous dislocation in many of their constituencies.
It is not a question of cutting back on defence expenditure. If the amendment were carried, it would cause almost complete chaos in a programme in which a great deal of the money has already been firmly committed by contract. Considerable additional cost would be involved in breach of contract suits, and even if we were to cancel some of our contracts we might end up incurring higher costs because of penalty clauses. I hope, therefore, that I can persuade my hon. Friends to think again before they press their amendment to the vote tonight.
|Division No. 20.]||AYES||[6.15 p.m.|
|Atkinson, Norman||Hoyle, Doug (Nelson)||Robertson, John(Paisley)|
|Bennett, Andrew(Stockport N)||Hughes, Roy(Newport)||Rodgers, George (Chorley)|
|Buchan, Norman||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Rooker, J.W.|
|Canavan, Dennis||Kerr, Russell||Rose, Paul B.|
|Carmichael, Neil||Lamond, James||Selby, Harry|
|Colquhoun, Ms Maureen||Latham, Arthur (Paddington)||Short, Mrs Renée (Wolv NE)|
|Corbett, Robin||Lee, John||Sillars, James|
|Craigen, Jim (Maryhill)||Loyden, Eddie||Silverman, Julius|
|Crawford, Douglas||Lyon, Alexander(York)||Skinner, Dennis|
|Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun)||Madden, Max||Stewart, Donald (Western Isles)|
|Evans, loan (Aberdare)||Mikardo, Ian||Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)|
|Flannery, Martin||Newens, Stanley||Torney, Tom|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Ovenden, John||Wigley, Dafydd|
|Garrett, John (Norwich S)||Parry, Robert||Wise, MrsAudrey|
|Grocott, Bruce||Pavitt, Laurle|
|Hart, Rt Hon Judith||Reid, George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES|
|Hatton, Frank||Richardson, Miss Jo||Mr. Frank Allaun and|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)||Mr. Sydney Bidwell.|
|Abse, Leo||Farr, John||Mabon, Dr J. Dickson|
|Alison, Michael||Faulds, Andrew||McCartney, Hugh|
|Amery, Rt Hon Julian||Finsberg, Geoffrey||McElhone, Frank|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Arnold, Tom||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||MacGregor, John|
|Ashton, Joe||Fookes, Miss Janet||MacKenzie, Gregor|
|Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne)||Foot, Rt Hon Michael||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Forrester, John||Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham)|
|Banks, Robert||Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin)||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C)|
|Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood)||Fox, Marcus||McNamara, Kevin|
|Bates, Alf||Fraser, Rt Hon H. (Stafford & St)||Madel, David|
|Bean, R. E.||Freeson, Reginald||Marks, Kenneth|
|Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood||Fry, Peter||Marquand, David|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay)||Gardner, Edward(S Fylde)||Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)|
|Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham)||Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)||Marten, Neil|
|Benyon, W.||George, Bruce||Mates, Michael|
|Berry, Hon Anthony||Gilbert, Dr John||Mather, Carol|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Maudling, Rt Hon Reginald|
|Blaker, Peter||Glyn, Dr Alan||Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Golding, John||Meacher, Michael|
|Boardman, H.||Goodhart, Philip||Mellish, Rt Hon Robert|
|Body, Richard||Goodhew, Victor||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Booth, Rt Hon Albert||Gorst, John||Millian, Rt Hon Bruce|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Gourlay, Harry||Mills, Peter|
|Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur||Gow, Ian (Eastbourne)||Molyneaux, James|
|Boyden, James (Bish Auck)||Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry)||Monro, Hector|
|Bralne, Sir Bernard||Graham, Ted||Montgomery, Fergus|
|Bray, Dr Jeremy||Grant, George (Morpeth)||More, Jasper (Ludlow)|
|Brittan, Leon||Gray, Hamish||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral|
|Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W)||Griffiths, Eldon||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Buchanan, Richard||Grimond, Rt Hon J.||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick||Hall, Sir John||Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)|
|Buck, Antony||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester)|
|Bulmer, Esmond||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||Moyle, Roland|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Hannam, John||Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE)||Harper, Joseph||Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King|
|Campbell, Ian||Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye)||Neave, Airey|
|Cant, R. B.||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Nelson, Anthony|
|Cartwright, John||Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss||Neubert, Michael|
|Chalker, Mrs Lynda||Hayhoe, Barney||Ogden, Eric|
|Churchill, W. S.||Hodgson, Robin||Orme, Rt Hon Stanley|
|Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton)||Hooson, Emlyn||Owen, Rt Hon Dr David|
|Clark, William (Croydon S)||Horam, John||Page, John (Harrow West)|
|Cockcroft, John||Hordern, Peter||Paisley, Rev Ian|
|Cocks, Fit Hon Michael||Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey||Palmer, Arthur|
|Cohen, Stanley||Howell, David (Guildford)||Park, George|
|Coleman, Donald||Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)||Parker, John|
|Concannon, J. D.||Howells, Geraint (Cardigan)||Parkinson, Cecil|
|Cope, John||Huckfield, Les||Pattie, Geoffrey|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey)||Penhaligon, David|
|Corrie, John||Hunt, David (Wirral)||Perry, Ernest|
|Costain, A. P.||Hunt, John (Bromley)||Peyton, Rt Hon John|
|Cox, Thomas (Tooting)||Hurd, Douglas||phipps, Dr Colin|
|Craig, Rt Hon W. (Belfast E)||Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pink, R. Bonner|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Irving, Rt Hon S. (Dartford)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony||Jackson, Colin (Brighouse)||Prior, Rt Hon James|
|Crouch, David||James, David||Pym, Rt Hon Francis|
|Davidson, Arthur||James, R. Rhodes (Cambridge)||Radice, Giles|
|Davies, Denzll (Llanelli)||Jay, Rt Hon Douglas||Rathbone, Tim|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Jessel, Toby||Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)|
|Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)||John, Brynmor||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)||Johnson, James (Hull West)||Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts)|
|Deakins, Eric||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex)|
|Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)||Jones, Alec (Rhondda)||Ridley, Hon Nicholas|
|Dell, Rt Hon Edmund||Jones, Barry (East Flint)||Rifkind, Malcolm|
|Dempsey, James||Jopling, Michael||Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Dodsworth, Geoffrey||Kaufman, Gerald||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Doig, Peter||Kershaw, Anthony||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)|
|Dormand, J. D.||King, Tom (Bridgwater)||Rodgers, Rt Hon William (Stockton)|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James||Knight, Mrs Jill||Roper, John|
|du Cann, Rt Hon Edward||Knox, David||Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)|
|Duffy, A. E. P.||Lamborn, Harry||Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)|
|Dunlop, John||Lamont, Norman||Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rowlands, Ted|
|Durant, Tony||Lawrence, Ivan||Sandelson, Neville|
|Eadie, Alex||Lawson, Nigel||Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)|
|Eden, Rt Hon Sir John||Lester, Jim (Beeston)||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-u-Lyne)|
|Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Shersby, Michael|
|English, Michael||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Shore, Rt Hon Peter|
|Ennals, David||Lipton, Marcus||Sims, Roger|
|Ewlng, Harry (Stirling)||Lloyd, Ian||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Eyre, Reginald||Luard, Evan||Small, William|
|Fairgrieve, Russell||Luce, Richard||Smith, Dudley (Warwick)|
|Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)||Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)||White, Frank R. (Bury)|
|Spriggs, Leslie||Thompson, George||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Stallard, A. W.||Thorpe, Rt Hon Jeremy (N Devon)||Whitlock, William|
|Stanley, John||Urwln, T. W.||Willey, Rt Hon Frederick|
|Steel, David (Roxburgh)||van Straubenzee, W. R.||Williams, Alan (Swansea W)|
|Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)||Walnwright, Edwin (Dearne V)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)|
|Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)||Wainwright, Richard (Colne V)||Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)|
|Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)||Wakeham, John||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Stoddart, David||Walder, David (Clitheroe)||Wood, Rt Hon Richard|
|Stott, Roger||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)||Woodall, Alec|
|Stradling Thomas, J.||Wall, Patrick||Wrigglesworth, Ian|
|Strang, Gavin||Ward, Michael||Young, SirG. (Ealing, Acton)|
|Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley||Warren, Kenneth||Younger, Hon George|
|Tapsell, Peter||Watkins, David|
|Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)||Watkinson, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)||Weatherill, Bernard||Mr. James Tinn and|
|Temple-Morris, Peter||Wellbeloved, James||Mr. Peter Snape.|
|Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret||Welsh, Andrew|
That a further Supplementary sum, not exceeding £517,309,000, be granted to Her Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund to defray the charges which will come in course of payment during the year ending on 31st March 1977 for expenditure on Defence Services, as set out in House of Commons Paper No 9.