Together with our NATO allies we are considering whether those nuclear weapons not at present covered in the strategic arms limitation talks should be included in future arms control negotiations, but no decisions have yet been taken. Our aim will be to achieve the right balance between the need to maintain sufficient forces to preserve NATO's deterrent strategy and the need to secure lower levels of armaments.
I said that no decisions had been taken, and what the hon. and learned Gentleman referred to are the matters about which no decisions have been taken. Until the SALT II negotiations are concluded, it is premature to become too involved in subsequent or similar SALT negotiations. No decisions have been taken, but obviously preliminary discussions within the alliance on some of these matters have been held.
Mr. Alan Lee Williams:
Does my right hon. Friend agree that, whatever case there might be in the future for the deployment of the cruise missile as a tactical weapon, the Russians might respond in that area, which would cause difficulties about arms control? Does he further agree that the cruise missile, deployed strategically, is no replacement for the A3, which is now on British Polaris submarines?
Many hon. Members hold that view. The whole of this area is a matter for future decision in the light of studies within the Alliance and of discussions between the allies. It is impossible to state a position on behalf of the Government until events move a little further.
As I have said on many occasions, as the Polaris missiles will continue to be effective into the 1990s it is too early to take a decision as to a possible successor, if it is decided that that would be a proper course to take in the light of arms control, defence and economic considerations.