Orders of the Day — Defence Estimates 1985

– in the House of Commons at 6:52 pm on 13th June 1985.

Alert me about debates like this

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Mr Keith Speed Mr Keith Speed , Ashford 7:04 pm, 13th June 1985

I hope that the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) will forgive me if I do not comment on his interesting speech.

The debate has been characterised by a total muddle and incoherence by the Labour Front Bench on nuclear policy. It is clear that, in spite of the protestations of Labour Members about this White Paper, they would spend not a penny more—indeed, very much less—on defence. To put it mildly, there was also a difference of opinion between the Liberal and Social Democratic parties.

The debate has been characterised by an optimism on the part of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State that increased competition plus the speculative nature of the forward programme will in some way ensure that it will be all right on the night. I do not entirely share his optimism. However optimistic or pessimistic the view of my right hon. Friend or the Select Committee about the amount of money that will be available for the equipment programme, no one has argued that in real terms there will be an increase over the next few years. Indeed, we have heard to the contrary, and all we have discussed so far is by how much it will decrease.

Yesterday, as reported in column 913 of the Official Report, my right hon. Friend said that over a 10-year period costings become increasingly speculative. That is undoubtedly true in respect of some projects and some items of equipment and stores. But the House will be aware that a new frigate, submarine, aircraft or armoured fighting vehicle takes about nine to 10 years from the design stage to the in-service stage. Therefore, many hon. Members — both those who served on the Select Committee and those in the House—fear that equipment that will be needed to replace outdated weapons and capabilities by a specific time will not be available because of financial pressures.

The cat was let out of the bag in one of the Select Committee's evidence-taking sessions. In paragraph 675 on page 129 of the report, I asked the Assistant Undersecretary (Systems), Mr. Reeves:

If you pluck a year out of the air—1990—and take the three programmes the Type 23, the EH101 and Trident…those three programmes would represent a major part of the Royal Navy's equipment programme". Mr. Reeves replied:

I think you have interesting and contrasting building blocks here. Trident has a certain political commitment; the EH101 has a certain international commitment; the Type 23 and its expenditure pattern has an element of discretion attached to it. Those three instances could be multiplied several times and you would find these building blocks with different degrees of solidity. I then said:

Because of the Italians and the total commitment to Trident, the Type 23 programme looks as if it will go pretty far right. Mr. Reeves replied:

I did not say that. I then said:

No, but we can draw our own conclusions", as indeed we can. That is what worries the Committee and many hon. Members.

When we talk of flexibility, we talk not about cuts but about pushing items of equipment further right. In a nutshell—and my right hon. Friends know it—the fact is that in the next 10 years a great deal of new conventional equipment will be required by all three armed services to keep our forces up to date and able to meet the threat that faces us. In addition, there is to be massive expenditure on Trident. There will also be an equipment budget which will be declining in real terms from an admittedly high plateau. Within the next few years there will be substantial problems for the MOD. I would describe it as a defence review in a stealth configuration. I hope I am wrong, but I believe that I am right.

A number of hon. Members have referred to amphibious warfare. I regret the remarks made by the Secretary of State yesterday about lobbies from the Royal Marines, Royal Navy or wherever trying to embarrass Ministers. On reflection, I think that my right hon. Friend will wish that he had not made that remark. It does him no credit and was totally out of character.

Paragraph 428 of last year's Defence White Paper stated: We are currently examining the provision of future amphibious capability once the existing specialised ships come to the end of their lives in the 1990s". Paragraph 430 of this year's White Paper states:

We are considering a range of options for providing a future amphibious capability once the existing specialised ships come to the end of their planned life". We have heard that the same decision has been taken for next year, so presumably the type can stay in place for next year's White Paper. That is not good enough.

The French have a similar capability with their Orage and Ouragan ships, which are the same age as Fearless and Intrepid, but are replacing those ships with the new TCD 90 class and ordering not one or two but three for delivery by 1993. The Royal Marines have a right to be fearful about this. Only three or four years ago their whole existence was in jeopardy. Fearless and Intrepid were to be disposed of prematurely and only the Falklands war and certain other matters prevented that.

The Select Committee stated clearly and unequivocally in paragraphs 25 to 27 that there is an urgent need for an early decision to replace those aging vessels. Those of us who went last week with the Select Committee to NATO's northern flank in Norway had discussions with NATO commanders and Norwegian forces and generals as well as with Norwegian politicians. We were left in no doubt about the overwhelming political and military importance of our amphibious capability. If Ministers are thinking of replacing that capability by airlifts, I must tell them that they are wrong. The importance of amphibious capability lies in its flexibility. Having seen the thousands of islands around 68° and 69° north, we realise that that flexibility is vital. Equally, if Ministers think that they can get by using merchant ships, I remind them that, in view of the lack of damage control in such vessels, even a minor accident can quickly put them out of action, as shown by the accident off the coast of Holland a few days ago. I am arguing not for a one-by-one replacement of Intrepid or Fearless but for urgent and positive decisions, perhaps with a small number of less expensive ships. That decision is needed quickly by the Royal Marines and our northern flank partners and not least by the Dutch with whom we work.

The contribution of the Merchant Navy is vital and the Select Committee has now produced a report on this. Some argue that it will be a short war next time so it does not really matter, but in my view that is nonsense. In a report to Congress a year or so ago Mr. Weinberger warned of the fallacy of assuming a short conventional war and spoke of

enhancing the readiness, mobility and sustainability of our forces". Part of that sustainability is the need for 600 merchant ships in the first month of any crisis or conflict to steam across the north Atlantic to these islands and to continental Europe with men, reinforcements and supplies. The harsh fact is that not just this country but other NATO countries are allowing the merchant fleet to run down to a dangerous extent. I remind the House once again of what was said by the man who in the autumn will become the new Chief of Defence Staff. After the Falklands crisis, Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse said:

I cannot say too often or too clearly how important has been the Merchant Navy's contribution to our efforts. Without the ships taken up from trade the operation could not have been undertaken and I hope this message is clearly understood by the British nation. Admiral Fieldhouse understands that very well; but do Parliament, the Government and the country understand it?

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife 7:13 pm, 13th June 1985

The hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed) is remembered for having resigned from the Government over indefensible defence cuts, and we admire him for that.

I wish to comment briefly on the theme that has run through all ministerial speeches in this two-day debate. Ministers have all been at great pains to persuade us that we are getting value for all the taxpayers' money spent on defence, but I believe that the opposite is true. I cite just one example. The Select Committee report gives the amount to be spent on the Falkland Islands from 1984 to 1994 as £3,220 million, which is money down the drain. Every other party in the House is committed to getting rid of that burden from around the taxpayer's neck. The taxpayers and the British public are being massively conned by some of the suavist and smoothest con men in the business, both within and outside the House. I believe that there is waste on a monumental scale in the most profligate Government Department in Whitehall.

I will cite just a few examples. On 8 April, The Observer ran an article referring to a series of articles published in November 1983. In 1983 it wrote of

institutionalised inefficiency and waste on a large-scale and

lack of accountability within the Ministry of Defence". It points out that Ministery officials have devised a number of ways of answering questions and ensuring that auditors, the guardians of the public purse, do not see potentially embarrasing documents. Moreover, parliamentary att-empts to penetrate the system are easily thwarted. The example was given of a three-inch file of British companies making Exocet missile parts, but as such documents do not officially exist no one in the House can see them and even the Comptroller and Auditor General cannot see them.

On torpedoes, The Observer stated in its article of 13 November 1983:

The Navy's latest torpedo, the Tigerfish, is considered so unreliable that submarine crews are reluctant to fire it. There are grounds for believing that its successor, Spearfish, recently ordered by the Ministry of Defence at a cost of £950 million, will be equally disastrous. Tigerfish apparently proved its unreliability in the Falklands war. According to The Observer, 70 were fired at a cost of £50,000 each but

The commander of the submarine which sank the Belgrano chose to fire Second World War generation torpedoes in preference to the Tigerfish he carried. I was a member of the Select Committee on Public Accounts when we called into question the value of another torpedo, the Sting Ray, the only torpedo mentioned in the White Paper and costing about £700 million at constant 1984 prices. In March, the report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on the torpedo programme estimated the cost of the three torpedoes at £5,000 million up to the mid-1990s, but no other navy within or outside NATO seemed remotely interested in them. The Comptroller and Auditor General summed up as follows:

Successive torpedo projects have suffered delays and cost increases and optimum weapon effectiveness has not been achieved. This suggested to me that the taxpayer in the past may not have received good value for the considerable sums spent. That is a typicl understatement of the case from the cautious Comptroller and Auditor General. It is a polite way of saying that the poor British taxpayer has been ripped off by Marconi and others in the defence business. At paragraph 19, the Comptroller and Auditor General says:

A major difficulty is the lack of competition in the United Kingdom for the prime contractor role." Marconi, now Marconi Underwater Systems Ltd., has a monopoly in torpedo development and production in the United Kingdom and is sitting very pretty. I remember two years ago, when Sir Frank Cooper, then the permanent secretary at the Ministry, was asked how many defence contractors had gone out of business in the great recession that we had suffered from in the previous few years, he smiled and said, "I cannot think of one."

A later report from the Comptroller and Auditor General on design and procurement of warships, which was published about a week ago, exposes similar problems and abuses. Paragraph 11 of the report says that the five main warship yards have made £185 million profit on the building of warships since 1980–81, as against losses of £525 million on other work in the same period. Paragraph 12 says:

in terms of the prices paid for warships … and the profits made by the warshipbuilders in the past suggest that the MOD have not always received good value for money". Again, we have the polite, moderate and cautious words of the Comptroller and Auditor General which show, once again, that taxpayers are being robbed of vast amounts of money by the armaments industry.

Vickers Shipbuilding Engineering Ltd. is the monopoly supplier of nuclear submarines to the Royal Navy and depends entirely on Ministry of Defence orders. It is one of the seven British Shipbuilders yards which are to be handed over to private owners. The Comptroller and Auditor General's report says that such companies have consistently overestimated the number of man hours necessary to complete contracts. The overestimates averaged 21 per cent., the worst example being 43 per cent. Non-competitive contracts for nuclear submarines are expected to be worth more than £2 billion up to 1990. Hundreds of millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money is being swallowed up every year by defence contractors whose accounts are never properly checked in Whitehall or elsewhere.

We are now embarking on the Trident programme. I shall say nothing about its morality, but the only people who are laughing are the companies in the United States and Britain which will build the components. My God, the figures are worth quoting. The Sunday Times of a few weeks ago described the enormous duplicity, immorality, dishonesty and fraud which is being perpetrated in the United States and which is now being perpetrated in Britain. That article mentioned $748 being asked for a pair of air force pliers, $436 being asked for a navy hammer and$7,600 being asked for an air force coffee pot—

Photo of Mr Ernest Armstrong Mr Ernest Armstrong , North West Durham

Order. The hon. Gentleman must conclude his speech—he has had his 10 minutes.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife

We do not believe a word that Ministers say when they say that they have defence expenditure under control. On the contrary, they are willing partners in a massive fraud being perpetrated on British taxpayers.

Photo of Mr Neil Thorne Mr Neil Thorne , Ilford South 7:24 pm, 13th June 1985

I listened with interest to the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), and I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be delighted to have such a close ally in the appointment of Mr. Levene, whose job it is to ensure that good value for money is obtained.

Photo of Mr Neil Thorne Mr Neil Thorne , Ilford South

If the figures which the hon. Gentleman quoted are anywhere near accurate, they show that there is much work for Mr. Levene to do.

I attended the Select Committee's interview of Mr. Levene earlier this week. What he said shows that he will direct his attention towards that problem and try to ensure that as few as possible cost-plus contracts are entered into, but that there will be many more fixed-price contracts. I welcome that step, as the world is highly competitive and we are in direct competition with other European countries, America and, perhaps in future, Japan.

Further economies could be achieved in the fisheries protection service. I understand that no fewer than 16 vessels provide the service, but that only four of them are required. In 1981 there were proposals to transfer the service to the Merchant Navy, where considerable economies could be achieved. I understand that as recently as last January the Inspector of Fisheries looked into the matter and that four excellent companies are able and willing to provide the service. They are P and O Fleet Mastercare, Townsend Thoresen, Sea Containers and F. T. Everard. I hope that the Ministry and, if necessary, the Cabinet will examine the cost comparisons closely to ensure that there is no waste so that resources can then be moved to other parts of the defence budget.

The two-way street is important. Matters have improved considerably recently. There was once a highway to Britain from America and a narrow country lane from Britain to the United States. The imbalance has been partially rectified, and trade is now merely 2:1 in their favour. There is still some way to go, however, and I hope that the lessons of Trident, which I fully support, have been learnt and that, in future, any such massive programme will be backed up with a direct offset arrangement.

The United States needs our moral support for the continuation of the nuclear umbrella, quite apart from a financial contribution towards the cost. We did not use our negotiating opportunities to the best advantage. Had we obtained offsetting arrangements, we should not have to work so hard to sell Plessey's excellent mobile subscriber equipment system, which my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman) mentioned earlier. There is no comparison between that system and the RITA system which the French Thompson organisation is selling hard. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces has lent his weight to the Plessey project, because I remember seeing him in Washington when the Defence Select Committee was there earlier this year. I understand that one of the main reasons for his visit was to draw attention to the advantages of the system. The French are devoting their energy to selling a system which is not in the same class as Plessey's tried and tested equipment, being part of the incredible Ptarmigan system.

While so much is being spent on defence, I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends also to consider service families. In the past we have been able to rely very much on the nuclear umbrella. For the past 40 years it has served us extremely well. However, we are now moving into a new era in which several much smaller powers can acquire the knowledge that is necessary for nuclear weapons. Arms have been supplied by some powers to terrorist organisations, and that nuclear knowledge may be used for terrorist purposes in future. Coupled with that fact, if we have the strategic defence initiative, it could lead to 95 per cent. of the nuclear weapons in the world being rendered obsolete, which could mean a new situation for the nuclear umbrella.

If we are asking service personnel to go off and fight for their country, we have an obligation under the defence budget to consider what happens to their families. Therefore, I urge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his Ministers to work closely with the Home Office in considering what should be done in civil defence. In other countries, as much as 3 per cent. of the total defence budget is allocated to civil defence measures, but in this country we spend less than half of 1 per cent. on that. There is a great difference. If we are to work towards the type of result that the strategic defence initiative may produce, we must be ready for what might happen at the end of the day. It would be a costly exercise to try to make the necessary arrangements in a hurry, whereas if it were done over a period of 10 or more years there could be a series of phased developments, particularly in the sphere of shelters. Therefore, the Ministry of Defence has an interest in the matter. I have already mentioned this matter to the Secretary of State and I hope that it will be taken up and looked at carefully.

There is just one other matter that I should like to mention in the short time available. It seems entirely wrong that so many countries are sheltering under the defence provided by relatively few. I am thinking particularly of the Secretary of State's remarks the other day on the poor contribution by one of our NATO allies, Denmark. Other countries, particularly Japan, were limited back in 1945 by the United States to total defence expenditure not exceeding 1 per cent. of their gross national product. That has given Japan and other countries an enormous advantage, in that they have not been burdened by the heavy defence expenditure that we have had to undertake over the years. They have the advantage of relying upon us to keep the air and sea lanes open for the benefit of their trade, both in supplying their goods round the world and receiving the oil which they desperately require to keep their industry going. That is entirely wrong. I understand why the United States did that in 1945, but we have had plenty of time to put the matter right. Whether that is done directly or indirectly is a matter for discussion among Governments, but undoubtedly a better solution must be sought and a more satisfactory answer obtained.

Photo of Bruce George Bruce George , Walsall South 7:34 pm, 13th June 1985

I preface my remarks by expressing my gratitude to those who, in their wisdom, limited speeches to 10 minutes. If that had not been done, non-Privy Councillors would not have had a look in, in such a debate.

Secondly, I should like to comment on the procedural impediments in the House to a proper debate on defence. We are one of the few legislatures that does not consider the Estimates seriously, rarely voting on them and not proceeding line by line. Although many kind things have been said about the Select Committee on Defence, which is under the able chairmanship of the right hon. Member for Spelthorne (Sir H. Atkins), and of which I am a member, we have no real input into the Estimates process, unlike most other legislatures. We probably have the weakest Committee system, certainly the weakest Defence Committee system in the whole of the Alliance with the exception of Iceland, which, as it has no defence, finds having a defence committee surplus to its requirements. Despite our lack of power, we managed to inspire the Secretary of State to a fine series of rhetorical flourishes yesterday, with our reports on merchant shipping and defence commitment and resources.

The Secretary of State lashed out at everyone. Last week it was the Danes. This week it was our Select Committee on Defence for some of the things that we dared to say. That Committee is under no obligation to produce reports that make the Ministry of Defence happy. That is the responsibility of the Ministry's public relations experts and Tory Central Office. It is not our task. We analysed carefully and produced what I believe is a competent piece of research, which will be read diligently in the Ministry of Defence, if that has not already been done.

The Secretary of State struck out at his own Department, defence contractors, the military and the Labour party—indeed, everyone except himself and the Treasury. I am afraid that the Secretary of State is angry because our Committee has finally rumbled him and pointed out that the emperor has far fewer clothes than he has hitherto presented to the world. In his speech yesterday, in criticising the Select Committee on Defence, the right hon. Gentleman looked at our worst case analysis and his best case analysis, and tried to point out the difference between what we say is available for defence and what he says is available. Perhaps our figures were too generous to the right hon. Gentleman's Department. We did not take into account the large pay increase that was given to the services recently. During his interview with us earlier in the week, Mr. Levene talked of a 10 per cent. efficiency saving in defence procurement, which was different from our calculations. Our figures, with which the Secretary of State disagrees, go wider than he is prepared to admit. The simple fact, which anyone can see, is that there is a considerable discrepancy between the Government's aspirations and what is available for defence. It is what some people would call a funding gap. No amount of massaging of the figures, or use of mirrors or conjuring tricks will eliminate that fact. The Government will simply not have the money available to do what they wish.

The Secretary of State proudly told us what his Department had done in the past five or six years, but one must tell him honestly that, with the exception of a few years, his Government have not met the 3 per cent. real increase target to which the previous Government agreed. His Government are now abandoning it. Therefore, they are in considerable difficulties. I would accept a non-nuclear defence policy — not because I have moral objections to nuclear weapons. I find all nuclear and chemical weapons objectionable. I believe that if there is going to be a funding gap, the only function that can be withdrawn, albeit reluctantly, is the nuclear function, as long as the resources committed to conventional defence will compensate.

That can be strongly justified to NATO. The Government, in committing themselves to NATO and to a significant out-of-area capability—the Falklands and so on—will simply have to have a defence review, and abandon a function, or half a function. It must be unpalatable for Conservatives to admit that fact, but I suggest that in addition to reading the White Paper they look carefully at the report of the Select Committee on Defence.

The Select Committee investigated many problem areas, including the flying white elephant Nimrod and the gross inadequacy of our air defence. The Conservative party criticised Labour's record in air defence, yet a Conservative Minister slaughtered our air defence 30 years ago. The idea of bringing out the museum Lightnings has been laughed off as the Army's equivalent of digging up General Custer. What we need, but will be unable to afford under the Government, are far more Tornados for air defence. The arming of Hawks is not remotely adequate, because they have no radar. They will need Phantom jets to take them out and point them in the direction of an adversary, which will no doubt release its load many miles away. We shall be sending out gallant men unprepared.

The Government are struggling in every way possible to bridge the gap that they know exists between what they want to spend and what they can spend. One example that has come to light is our third aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal. It is lunatic planning to decide to have three aircraft carriers but not to have the men, aeroplanes and helicopters to put on those carriers. Shuffling two crews among three carriers is the height of folly in peacetime, and would be suicidal in time of war.

My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) criticised COCOM. I sympathise with some of his economic arguments. It is the height of lunacy to export or give away equipment of a non-military character to the Soviet Union that can easily be used for military purposes. Research has shown how costly it is to compensate the West in military terms for the quantum leap forward that the Soviet Union has been able to make in many technologies, based not only on intelligence and spying, but on the legal, and sometimes illicit, exports of what might appear to be non-military equipment.

During the next three years, the Labour party will have the difficult task of convincing the public that its alternative defence policy will provide adequate security for Britain. The policy that we presented at the previous general election did not work, and contributed heavily to our defeat. Unless we are careful, we might do the same in 1986 or 1987.

During visits of the Select Committee to other countries, I have met many Democratic Socialists. To most of them, defence is vital. Only in Britain and a few other countries are democratic Socialists considered as being endorsers of pacificism or semi-neutralism. Last week, we were in Sweden. Being a Democratic Socialist in Sweden and believing in defence is an expensive business. It has 350 fighters— almost as many as we have—and an enormous commitment to civil defence. Almost everyone between the ages of 17 and 47 is committed to participating in the defence of Sweden. In France, Socialism does not mean pacifism. The Socialist-led coalition in Italy is investing heavily in defence. Socialists in Spain and Portugal would not deny their citizens adequate defence. The last thing that one could call Chinese Socialists is pacifist or neutralist or people who are naive about the Soviet Union.

We can convince the public only if we convince ourselves first. Any party whose defence programme includes policies that the public perceive as inadequate will deservedly be rejected by the electorate. I am not sure that we are up to it, but the Labour party's task is to provide a proper alternative defence policy that is not a carping membership of NATO, like the Greek variety, but is a genuine commitment to NATO.

Photo of Mr James Couchman Mr James Couchman , Gillingham 7:44 pm, 13th June 1985

Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State stressed the vital importance of our membership of NATO. He was right to do so, for it is impossible to exaggerate how important it is to NATO to have Britain as a member, and how important it is for us to be a member of NATO. I shall concentrate my remarks on some of the strains that confront the Alliance.

My first concern arises from the decision to proceed with research on the strategic defence initiative. I approve of the decision, and I wish our American allies every success. However, a basic misunderstanding of SDI seems likely to fuel uneasiness about American intentions in researching those sophisticated systems.

Last week, with other right hon. and hon. Members, 1 was privileged to be briefed on SDI at the Pentagon by the programme's director, General Abrahamson. That briefing set SDI in context as the series of research programmes that it is. The programme is wholly compatible with the anti-ballistic missile treaty, and is comparable to the research permitted under that treaty, which the Soviets have been carrying out for many years. Only the Soviets have deployed an ABM system to protect Moscow.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett) said, for 20 years, NATO has relied on the principle of mutually assured destruction. We have relied on a nuclear retaliation capability large enough to counter any potential aggressor. For many years, it has been assumed that neither NATO nor the Warsaw Pact possessed the technology to construct a comprehensive and effective defence against nuclear offensive systems. That assumption must now be set aside. Scientific and technological advances suggest that we must now consider seriously a defence option, especially a non-nuclear option, which might allow us to move to a much more secure and stable basis for deterrence.

Apart from technical feasibility, the other parameter that has changed has been the scale of Soviet offensive and defensive growth since the SALT process began, in addition to which there has been growing non-compliance and deception by the Soviets that threatens the entire military balance. Not only does the Soviet Union possess the only ABM system; it possesses the world's only deployed anti-satellite capability. The Soviet Union clearly believes in both offensive and defensive deterrence.

In view of the massive build-up of Soviet forces, offensive and defensive, nuclear and non-nuclear, it is clear that NATO must respond by modernising its retaliatory capacity and updating its strategic and longer-range intermediate nuclear forces. Hence the deployment of MX missiles and the development of Midgetman, the deployment of cruise and Pershing missiles and, for Britain, the ordering of Trident. In addition, NATO must explore new deterrent options. Hence the desirability of SDI, for it is directly aimed at negating the destabilising effect of Soviet growth in offence and defence. If it concentrates Soviet minds on defence, it will have a highly beneficial stabilising effect.

It is unfortunate that those who scoff at NATO and at our defence should have tagged SDI with the perjorative epiphet of star wars. SDI is a research programme with several different elements, which is carried out at several different locations. I should stress that it is a research programme. Although research will cost about $26 billion during the next few years, deployment of such a system if the research is successful would cost anything between $500 billion and $1,000 billion. The jump between research and deployment is a quantum leap. Research is permissible under the ABM treaty; deployment would require negotiation. But we should be deluding ourselves if we thought that the United States would give the Soviets a simple veto on deployment.

We should encourage our American allies to carry out the research, in the hope that they will achieve the concept of a multi-layered defence system. We should share in that research and, if it is successful, we should share in the decision as to whether SDI should be deployed.

My second anxiety relates to the current American attitude to the ABM treaty and the unratified SALT II treaty. In the case of the ABM treaty, the Americans have every good reason for cynicism. It is clear that the Soviet construction of a huge new phased-array radar near Krasnoyarsk is an ominous departure from and breach of the ABM treaty. That installation will increase the Soviet Union's capability to deploy a territorial ballistic missile defence system. Claims that it is a part of a space tracking station are demonstrably a cynical untruth.

The SALT II treaty, although unratified, has generally been adhered to by the USA for six years. This week, President Reagan has committed himself, on the advice of Secretary of State Shultz, to broad observance of SALT II whilst reserving the right to counter Soviet breaches such as the construction of the SS-X-25 missile.

The announcement that the United States would take out of service a Poseidon submarine later this year when the new Trident submarine goes to sea is to be welcomed. It is in sharp contrast to Soviet activity. Nevertheless, the tensions and strains in connection with SALT II and the ABM treaty have contributed to our uneasiness.

My last worry about the NATO Alliance relates to the south-east flank. I have recently been to Bulgaria with a number of other hon. Members. There we were told by senior members of the Government that Bulgaria is keen to promote a Balkan nuclear-free zone. There is little doubt that the initiative for that came from Moscow, to which Bulgaria offers close support. It is an idea which is easily accepted by Yugoslavia, Rumania, Bulgaria and even Albania, to whom no one would be silly enough to offer nuclear arms. It is an idea that is seductive to Greece, ruled as it is by the unpredictable Mr. Papandreou. In his bid for re-election, Mr. Papandreou offered as an election bid the expulsion of American bases in 1988—shades there perhaps of another Socialist party aspiring to government.

Only Turkey with its vital strategic position is not attracted by a nuclear-free zone, but who can tell what the effects of the current resurgence of Moslem fundamental-ism will be on Turkey and its present western-inclined Government?

I am worried about the stability of the south-east flanks. I floated that anxiety in Washington last week and received a glib assurance from a staff man at the Pentagon that the Alliance is in fine shape. I remain to be convinced, because I believe that there are strains and tensions in the Alliance which run deeper than mere "domestic tiffs".

It behoves us all to work hard to conserve and foster the vitality and strength of NATO, our most important partnership. Opposition Members should drop their malicious and divisive proposals to throw out American bases or even some classes of American weapons. It is the height of hypocrisy to suggest that we should deny bases to American nuclear weapons whilst hoping that America will continue to offer us protection under its nuclear unbrella.

The threat posed to the Alliance by the erratic Mr. Papandreou is nothing when compared with the threat posed by those who would expel the Americans and their weapons from Britain. Such a catastrophe would surely spell an end to the Western Alliance.

Photo of Mr John Cartwright Mr John Cartwright , Woolwich 7:52 pm, 13th June 1985

Like the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman), I have been subject in Washington to briefings on SDI. It must be a growth industry at present in Washington. I reached conclusions slightly different from those of the hon. Gentleman. The doubts and reservations about SDI that transcend the political spectrum in Europe are well founded. It is difficult, for example, for those of us who have been brought up to believe that the deterrent has maintained peace throughout the post-war years suddenly to be told by the American Administraton that the whole idea of deterrence is immoral and will not last.

The critics of SDI are correct to suggest that it involves the risk that a potential aggressor will increase his offensive capability to swamp the defensive system. The critics are also right to suggest that, while the SDI approach has an impact on arms control, it may well lead to the unravelling of the ABM treaty, and cuts that we want to see in the INF and the START will be much more difficult in view of the American priority on the SDI.

If the SDI approach were to be effected it could well result in the decoupling of Western Europe from the United States, because the development of an SDI approach on both sides would undermine the effect of the United States nuclear guarantee to Western Europe.

Finally, there is the opportunity cost of the SDI operation. The sums of money involved, as we are aware, are gigantic. One cannot help feeling that they might be directed better to other parts of the defence budget.

It is not just money. I had the opportunity about a month ago to be in the national laboratory at Los Alamos in New Mexico looking at some of the techniques and technology involved in the SDI operation. The scientists there are in no doubt that SDI will attract the best and brightest brains in American physics. With the current state of the world, I cannot help thinking that their expertise and abilities might be better directed to other projects.

The American belief that it is possible to accommodate the improvements in conventional defence that are necessary, the modernisation of the nuclear deterrence and SDI during a period of pressure on defence budgets mirrors the belief of this Government that it is possible to have Trident and all the other improvements in defensive capability that we want.

I am glad to see that the Select Committee on Defence is examining the impact of Trident on the defence budget. I look forward with great interest to see what conclusions it reaches. I hope that it is rather more successful in getting clear answers from the Ministry of Defence than it has been in the past. I hope, for example, that the Committee does not find itself, as it was on this occasion, frustrated by vague and evasive answers, and elegant but unhelpful hypotheses.

It is perhaps worth recalling that the Select Committee on Defence studied the issue in 1981. It produced a detailed report after more than a year's investigation of the future of the strategic deterrent in this country. Even then the Select Committee on Defence had problems in obtaining clear information, because the report's first conclusion states:

It is a matter of regret to us that we have found the Ministry unwilling to discuss in any detail the opportunity costs of purchasing the Trident system". In recommendation 14, the Committee, in a sense, trailered the type of problem that we are discussing tonight. It said:

Against the background of current reviews of defence, commitments and expenditure, it is very difficult to see how it will be possible to give top priority to the Trident programme throughout the decade without displacing or squeezing out some other equipment programmes. That is part of the case against the Trident that has been deployed during the debate.

Conservative Members said yesterday, and they have said it again today, that there is no alternative to Trident. That ignores a good deal of the academic work done by Professor Freedman, Dr. David Greenwood and others which suggests that there are alternatives. The most likely alternative is a cruise system. The Minister of State merely dismissed the cruise alternative as being less effective and more costly. I am not aware of any recent work which the Government have produced which would show that cruise is more costly than Trident. There is a good deal of independent evidence to the contrary.

When it comes to effectiveness, no one would dispute that any form of cruise deterrent system would not be as effective and sophisticated as Trident. We must then face the question of what type of deterrent we need in this country. I argue that we need only the minimum deterrent. The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) correctly said that it would be a foolish waste of resources to purchase a deterrent which was not effective, but I would argue the reverse. It is equally foolish to waste resources on a deterrent which is far more sophisticated and accurate and which has a longer range than we need in this country. When we have a deterrent system whose warhead potential is 14 times the potential of Polaris, it is certainly too sophisticated for us. We should also bear in mind the impact of that on arms control negotiations.

I am surprised that hon. Members have attempted to devalue cruise. It is worth reminding ourselves that the United States is involved in massive investment in cruise. The United States’ current programmes, for example, involve more than 5,000 air-launched cruise missiles, of which 1,000 are already deployed, and almost 2,000 sea-launched cruise missiles. The Department of Defence describes the Tomahawk cruise missile as

a highly capable and versatile weapon system that can be launched from a variety of surface ships, submarines and aircraft. I do not argue that the Tomahawk is a perfect replacement for Trident, but the way in which it has been dismissed in the debate runs contrary to the evidence before us.

Finally, I wish to comment on the issue of manpower in the armed forces. That is not mentioned in the White Paper. I notice that the Select Committee report states that the White Paper

contains surprisingly little about recruiting, retention, pay and allowances, maintaining skills, morale and career prospects at a time when these issues ate causing concern to service men and their families. More space should have been given to these aspects. Yesterday the Secretary of State fairly referred to the problems of increased outflow from the armed forces as a result of pressure from industry. He referred to fierce competition from the private sector regarding technical posts. The picture that he presented was that that sort of competition from the private sector would become stronger as the economy improved and, presumably, unemployment became less of an automatic recruiting sergeant for the armed forces.

We must bear in mind that population changes make it difficult for us to get the manpower that we need in the armed forces. The reduction in the numbers of 16 to 19-year-olds in our population, for example, will continue throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Although the problem was referred to in the 1981 White Paper, it has not been referred to since. That problem will continue even beyond 1991. In 1983, for example, we had 1·929 million men in the 16 to 19 age range, but by 1995 that figure will have dropped to 1·39 million. I know that that is a general problem in Europe, but the Government must devote much more attention to it.

We can improve our reserve capability, but that will not solve all the problems. We can use modern technology to replace men, but that will not solve all the problems. We can pursue the strategy, which the Secretary of State set out yesterday, of trying to ensure that the armed forces keep pace with pay and conditions outside. That is right, but it will not solve all the problems. That is yet another area where the pressures of trying to make good deficiencies in manpower will add to the pressures on the defence budget. That brings us back once again to the impact of Trident.

Because we do not believe that the Government are taking sufficiently seriously the impact of those budgetary problems on our defences, we shall not support them tonight. Equally, we shall not support the Labour amendment, because the commitment to remove all nuclear weapons from the United Kingdom is wholly irresponsible.

Photo of Mr Paul Bryan Mr Paul Bryan , Booth Ferry 8:03 pm, 13th June 1985

I declare my interest as a director of a shipping company, but also as one of a growing number of right hon. and hon. Members who have become concerned about the decline of our merchant fleet and, in particular, its ability to carry out its role in time of war. That growing anxiety has been reflected in the significant number of times to which the subject has been referred in the debate.

The lack of any evident will on the part of the Government to face that problem has been especially worrying. However, I feel rather more at ease this year about that than in last years debate, not because the decline has halted—far from it—but because I see signs that we are all at least beginning to face the issue. Last year the Government were still resting on their Falklands laurels. No criticism came from the public. After all, the Merchant Navy had more than proved itself in the campaign, when there were more merchant ships taking part than those of the Royal Navy. No mention of the Merchant Navy appeared in the Statement on the Defence Estimates, an extraordinary omission.

At that time the then president of the General Council of British Shipping and a few worried members of the shipping industry and of this House seemed to be the only warning voices to be heard. It was then that the Defence Select Committee played precisely the role that Select Committees should play. In its report last year, the dangers were for the first time exposed and an answer was demanded. That was backed up by two powerful speeches — one by the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, my right hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Sir H. Atkins), and the other by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed), who as we heard again today is extremely knowledgeable about anything to do with the sea. Subsequently, my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Sir E. du Cann) set up the all-party maritime group, supported by some of the most influential Members of the House. Finally, we have had the first report from the Defence Select Committee on the use of maritime shipping for defence purposes, which was published only this week. During the past year the pressure on the Government has really built up.

In this year's Statement on the Defence Estimates we have the interim reaction to that pressure. We are promised a major study by consultants into the future trend of availability of those parts of the merchant fleet for which there is a defence need. The results are due to be available by the middle of the year—in other words, very soon. That is a welcome sign that the Government appear to be waking up to the defence consequences of the decline in the British merchant fleet. The consultants’ studies will surely secure a basis of facts, on which the continuing debate can be based, although the Defence Select Committee's report makes one wonder how far Ministers had taken the issues on board when they embarked on this course. Indeed paragraphs 25 and 31 of the report are pretty damning.

The first report published this week shows the Select Committee system working at its best. The Members have got their teeth into the subject, and will not let it go. While recognising the need for confidentiality, the consultants’ report will clearly form the basis for discussions in the coming months. As much of it as possible should be published, and the Select Committee should be given full access to it.

Paragraph 9 of the report gives a clue to the reasons for apparent past ministerial disinterest. Few problems were likely to arise in the days when the merchant fleet was much larger than it is now, both in total and in respect of each of the ship types. When there was such a large pool of ships to draw on, one could afford errors in estimating the future size of the fleet. As the report says:

fluctuations in the availability of ships for any reason would be covered by the excess of vessels in the Merchant Fleet over those required for defence purposes. Meanwhile, before the report of the consultants, one of the most intractable problems has been brought to light by the Defence Select Committee report and by several hon. Members during this debate, and has been underlined in the presidential address of the new president of the GCBS, Mr. Brian Shaw. He said:

another striking feature of British Shipping is how increasingly international it has become. Companies not only operate as partners in international consortia; they are sometimes multi-national companies in their own right. Moreover foreign ship owners no longer begin at Calais. Something like a quarter of British owned shipping is now registered outside the U.K. and the proportion is now rising. He goes on:

There is a growing fleet of British-owned ships sailing under a variety of non-United Kingdom flags. We have experienced the development of consortia, joint ventures, interlocking share-holdings across international boundaries and we have seen the management in operation of ships increasingly as an activity carried on quite separately from ship-owning. Thus, the ease and speed with which the Government were able to commandeer the pick of the merchant fleet for the Falklands campaign was misleading. The time has come to establish what ships will be legally and practically available to the Navy in a longer term war.

Another feature of the shipping industry—common, I suppose, to most industries today— is the speed of change. It is not only the numbers and ownership of ships which are changing, but the types. Within a few years, the size of tankers doubled. The same is now happening with container ships, which are thus much more vulnerable in war.

The summary of the British merchant fleet, which I understand is now to appear yearly in the statement, assumes a new importance and should be in more detail to reflect the increasing specialisation which is the order of the day. For that reason, I commend paragraph 45 of the Select Committee's report. It is probably the most important recommendation in the document, for it says:

We believe that in future Defence White Papers, the Merchant Navy should be treated formally as a defence resource. From now on, there should be statistical information on the availability of merchant shipping by category, including only those vessels susceptible to requisition. It goes on to say that the manpower figures should also be given.

I hope that the consultants’ report will go beyond the role of the Merchant Navy in its direct support duty to the Royal Navy and will deal with the problem of keeping the country supplied in wartime, which was a large part of its duty in the last war. For example, the position of our ports in time of war needs consideration, as an increasing proportion of our supplies now arrive in container ships. Container terminals, which are dependent on a few huge cranes, must be more vulnerable than a conventional port. We were told in the Felixstowe debate that there was an excess of container terminal capacity in Britain. That may be inconvenient now, but it could be a great boon in time of war.

The report points out the extent to which responsibility for providing an adequate merchant fleet in wartime is divided between a number of Departments and, therefore, tends not to be the prime responsibility of any one Department. For instance, I do not suppose that the Merchant Navy's role in war was uppermost in the Chancellor's mind when he dealt the shipping industry such a blow in his 1984 Budget.

To meet the dilemma, my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton has advocated a Minister for Shipping. I doubt whether such a Minister would be senior enough to be effective. Nevertheless, we must find a method by which responsibility for the policy of shipping and the monitoring of its achievement is carried out at the highest level of Government.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd , Cynon Valley 8:14 pm, 13th June 1985

Despite the cosy and comforting tone of the White Paper, there are a number of disturbing areas which it does not address, one of which is secrecy. Another is the extent to which the United Kingdom has mortgaged its future, not only to the nuclear arms race but specifically to United States nuclear arms policy.

The White Paper has done nothing to lift the obsessive secrecy which pervades any important discussion about defence. As the Select Committee reports in paragraph 36:

We wanted to examine in-service dates, operational life, scale and the phasing of expenditure. Our purpose was frustrated by vague and evasive answers and elegant but unhelpful hypotheses. Many of my hon. Friends have had similar experiences with Ministers in recent months. For example, written answers were given to me on 29 October of last year on the question of FOFA, the follow-on force attack concept. I asked the Secretary of State what view of the FOFA concept had been taken by the NATO military committee, and was told that that committee's business was, by its nature, confidential. I then asked whether the FOFA concept would be on the agenda of the December meeting of NATO defence ministers, and I received the reply that the business of the ministerial committee was confidential —[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—"Hear, hear" say Conservative Members. They do not feel the same in America, because three days earlier General Rogers held a briefing for journalists and the details of that press conference were reported fully in the International Herald Tribune on 26 October. That clearly showed that he gave clear answers to the questions that I had asked our Minister.

The White Paper, in justifying the increase in the number of warheads of the Trident D5 purchase, says:

The United Kingdom's deterrent force, when equipped with Trident, will remain the minimum size compatible with cost-effectiveness and credibility. As the Government have not yet released details of the number of warheads that will be produced for the Trident system, how can the House judge either contention?

Ministers have repeatedly denied that "Air-Land Battle" has been used on NATO exercises. Yet Casper Weinberger told Congress that it was used on NATO's Reforger 82 exercise. He also made it clear that the declared intention of the United States Defence Department was to bring about European acceptance of the "Air-Land Battle" doctrine, involving the offensive use of chemical and nuclear weapons in deep attacks. Who is telling the truth, our politicians or American politicians?

I know who I prefer to believe. [Interruption.] I do not believe our politicians, and that is clear to all on the Opposition Benches. If we do not receive answers from Ministers, I cannot believe what they do not say— [Interruption.]—because they do not say it. They hide behind the tag of "confidential." In the United States., on the other hand, Congress is open on these issues and at press briefings full answers are given to questions that we in this House are denied.

Last week a group of Members of Parliament went on a visit to SHAPE and NATO for round-table discussions chaired by top military personnel, including Chief of Staff General James E. Dalton, General Bernard Rogers' chief of staff. When asked for information concerning battlefield nuclear weapons and about exactly what General Rogers had sought at the nuclear planning group at Montebello in 1983, he replied:

The British Government has been told. Pressed about the modernisation of the weapons, he said:

It is up to your Government to tell you, not me. Asked to what the allies were likely to agree, he said:

Ask your own national Government. That is precisely the problem. We ask hundreds of questions but find ourselves, like the Select Committee, frustrated by vague and evasive answers.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Clay) yesterday illustrated the point when he attempted to get answers to questions about American nuclear-tipped artillery shells and their deployment. How much longer in a so-called democratic society must we rely on the American press and Congress to give us the answers that our politicians should be giving us?

The White Paper says:

We welcome this debate for it is vital in a democratic society that people should clearly understand the issues involved in maintaining defences sufficient to deter aggression. We believe it is appropriate, this year to address these questions in detail. However, in effect, there is no debate. Nuclear weapons, our defence policy and the secrecy surrounding them are negating the very values in our society on which we so often pride ourselves.

What is even more sinister is that, while the Labour party intends to see that the defence of the United Kingdom is put on a rational and stable fooling— if Conservative Members waited until the end of my sentence they would not laugh quite so hard—one of our major allies, the United States, is apparently prepared to frustrate the policy of a democratically-elected Government. When asked what the American reaction would be to a British Labour Government abandoning nuclear weapons for Britain, General Dalton replied that the United Kingdom has "a key geographical position". When asked what kind of pressure might be put on a future Labour Government and whether the pressure might include economic sanctions, General Dalton replied, "It might be."—[Interruption.] Obviously Tory Members do not believe in democratically-elected Government.

When a democratically-elected Government was overthrown in Chile in 1979—

Photo of Mr Roland Boyes Mr Roland Boyes , Houghton and Washington

Did not General Dalton also say that the American Government were pressurising the Government of Canada because they were not happy with their performance and that they were also dissatisfied with the 1 per cent. spending on defence in Japan and were going to put pressure on that Government as well? Does this not show the lengths to which the American Government will go to get their own way?

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd , Cynon Valley

I thank my hon. Friend for making that point. He also heard General Dalton say what I am telling Conservative Members, although they obviously do not want to listen.

Henry Kissinger said about Chile in 1979 that the revolution was in the best interests of the Chilean people. We have seen what the Americans are doing to a democratically elected Government in Nicaragua. We have seen their reaction to New Zealand, when that Government refused to toe the line.

Yesterday, the Secretary of State for Defence told us that each of us is a sovereign nation. That suggests that we have our destiny in our own hands. Can we believe that when we see how more powerful countries, and even multinational companies, can destroy the economy of a country by their actions?

Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore Mr Brian Sedgemore , Hackney South and Shoreditch

Can my hon. Friend elaborate that point? She appears to be announcing an important new papal doctrine from the lips of General Dalton. If the United States is prepared to inflict economic sanctions on Britain, they should remember that economic sanctions have political consequences. Interfering in the affairs of a democratic state amounts to a denial of the democratic system. Were there any witnesses to this statement? Can my hon. Friend give us the names of those present so that we can find out whether they can verify what she is saying? Obviously, NATO will have to respond to what my hon. Friend is saying.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd , Cynon Valley

I thank my hon. Friend for making that important point. Nine Members of Parliament were present at this meeting, and during the round table discussions chaired by General Dalton there were also present Minister-Counselor Grey, from the United States, Rear Admiral John Rodocanachi from Canada, who is assistant chief of staff in the intelligence division, a German general, Major General Jurgen Schluter, deputy assistant chief of staff, policy division, Rear Admiral Kenneth A. Snow, deputy assistant chief of staff, operations division and Air Commodore Pilkington.

The people at NATO were so concerned by what General Dalton had said that public relations men followed us about for the whole of the rest of the next day, apologising for the way in which General Dalton had responded to our inquiries. They said that he had been so frank because he was letting his hair down because he was retiring in July. We are extremely glad that General Dalton was prepared to let down his hair and be so frank about the intentions of the United States military if a future Labour Government were to implement their non-nuclear policy.

The Defence White Paper is a bland and complacent document. It completely ignores four things. The first is the growing absurdity of the so-called flexible response. The second is the extent to which the Government are prepared to mortgage our future to United States nuclear weapons policy. The third is the serious financial implications for our conventional forces if Trident is allowed to be constructed. The fourth is the need for clear and detailed information, not least on financial matters, if we are to have democratic debate in anything other than name. In short, the White Paper is much prose to little effect. It is thousands of words that do nothing to paper over the many cracks in Britain's defence posture, which the Government have brought about by muddled thinking and downright evasiveness.

Photo of Mr Cyril Townsend Mr Cyril Townsend , Bexleyheath 8:26 pm, 13th June 1985

I am prepared to admire the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) for the way in which she has persevered with the issues that she has raised. However, I listened closely to her speech, but I could not agree with a word that she uttered from start to finish. There were two basic errors.

First, we would all be interested to learn the state of the art of communicating with our nuclear submarines. I would be fascinated — but so would people in the Kremlin. There must be rules and regulations about what is brought into the public domain. Secondly, it is incredibly naive to think that if there were an invasion of West Germany it would not be part of NATO's plan to attack forces piling up in East Germany. That has been part of NATO's defence strategy for many a year, and I hope it will continue to be so.

In many ways, the debate has an air of unreality. I cannot remember the golden years—they have certainly not been around for the past 20 years — when our defence budget was not under pressure. I remember only too clearly sitting on the Opposition Benches and watching with horror as Labour Ministers slashed the defence budget by about five or six times. If anybody thinks that a Labour party returned to government—I do not think that it will be — would increase spending on conventional weapons, he is living in a fool's paradise.

I am a 100 per cent. supporter of the Trident decision. I cannot think of a better weapons system to act as a deterrent. I find absurd two arguments in particular of those trotted out against it. The first is that it is too sophisticated. The Trident system is due to last until I reach the age of 82, when I hope to be coming up to being one of the older and perhaps more senior Members of the House. The thought of our not going for the latest and best technology when we have such a period of time ahead of us is absurd. Secondly, the concept that the present Polaris submarines should be allowed to continue beyond their natural lifetime is highly irresponsible. What about the poor crews who have to go to sea in them?

A vexed issue is the huge and increasing stocks of chemical weapons in the hands of the Soviet Union. Rather chillingly, the White Paper talks about 300,000 tonnes of nerve agencies. How should the West respond to that sort of threat? We might respond in three ways. First, we can look the other way and pretend that we do not know anything about it. I would not back any Government that adopted that point of view. Secondly, we could develop our own offensive chemical weapons capability, a capability that we rightly gave up after the war. If one thinks through the implications both at home and abroad, it is not a course that I would recommend to my Front Bench. There is too much evidence that other countries follow one's bad examples, not necessarily one's good examples. The unilateral disarmers might remember that point.

There is a third response, which I call the Admiral Sir James Eberle solution, which is fairly brutal: that we should make it perfectly clear that we are not going to develop an offensive chemical weapons capability. I do not think that Congress will allow the United States to develop its stocks. We should also make it perfectly clear that if, in the event of hostilities, there were to be a major use of chemical weapons by the other side, we should feel free to give serious consideration to using tactical nuclear weapons in reply. That may fill many hon. Members with shock and horror, but it is facing reality.

I have always been in two minds about the Mount Pleasant airfield in the south Atlantic. Of course it was expensive and of course it would change the environment of the islanders, but the case for building it was probably overwhelming. I do not see how our garrison could be scaled down without it. The runway at Stanley will soon need to be repaired, anyway.

It is very important that our defence policy for the rest of this century should not be distorted by the Falklands campaign. That would be most foolish. Our defence posture in the Falklands is a burden on the defence budget. Admiral Stavely has referred to the shortage of ships in the north Atlantic. He claims that the fleet is at about half strength. It is a big naval commitment. For most of my political life Britain has been withdrawing its forces from the far-flung corners of the empire back to northern Europe and the north Atlantic. I do not see how we will have the ability in future to send another task force 8,000 miles down the Atlantic sea lanes. Should we have the merchant ships if a similar operation had to be carried out in a year's time, let alone in 10 years' time? I hope that the Ministry of Defence is feeding to the Foreign Office some of the long term implications of our strategy in that part of the world.

Finally, I wish to refer to a subject that is given a special little essay of its own in the White Paper, the British training teams abroad. They do a remarkable job. It is a rare privilege for a country to be invited to send training personnel to build up from scratch, or to rebuild the defence forces of a country. We have tremendous expertise. Some of our best soldiers, sailors and airmen are involved in these programmes. In real terms, however, we have cut back upon the expenditure on those programmes. I ascertained that fact from the Library this afternoon. I know that more people are serving abroad—in about 30 countries, I believe—but it is shortsighted to cut back on the amount of money that is put into that effort.

Our defence policy is very much on the right course. It backs up our foreign policy. Lord Home of the Hirsel used to refer to dealing in conciliation from a basis of strength. Our Foreign Secretary is, I understand, to be the first British Foreign Secretary to visit each eastern European capital. That policy is reinforced by the fact that in the last Parliament we spent so much time upon strengthening our defence capability. We are taken seriously. Lord Mountbatten made a famous speech in May 1979. It is much used by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. I see that on the CND bumf they write on top "The speech we overlooked." I did not overlook that speech. Lord Mountbatten said:

To begin with we are most likely to preserve the peace if there is a military balance of strength between East and West. The real need is for both sides to replace the attempts to maintain a balance through ever-increasing and even more costly nuclear armaments by a balance based on mutual restraint. Better still, by reduction of nuclear armaments I believe it should be possible to achieve greater security at a lower level of military confrontation. That is very much where I stand. Anybody who read the major speech made by the Prime Minister in Hungary recently knows that is very much where my right hon. Friend stands. It is a thoroughly sound and sensible approach for this Government to adopt.

Ministers in the Ministry of Defence may feel that the campaign against CND has gone well, that our defence posture is sound and that to some extent, therefore, we can rest on our laurels. That is a fundamentally false assumption. A great deal of evangelical work lies ahead of us in two areas. First, the very success of NATO means that it is not understood by a growing number of people in our constituencies. Secondly, the need for NATO to have a back-up of nuclear weapons is not understood in the schools and universities of this country. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done there.

It used to be said of the Stonewall Jackson brigade in the American civil war that it started at dawn—except when it started the night before. I commend that sort of spirit to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement. God forbid that he should have too many late nights, but let him and his colleagues get up early. They have a fundamental job to do of great importance to the safety of this country. They have to explain what our defence policy is all about. In return, my right hon. Friend has the privilege of responsibility for the finest, fittest, most skilled and most courageous service men in the world.

Photo of Mr Roland Boyes Mr Roland Boyes , Houghton and Washington 8:36 pm, 13th June 1985

I regret that I have to say to the hon. Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) that I agree with very little of his speech. However, he referred to his abhorrence of chemical weapons. I should like to say a few words about chemical weapons and their possible use in war. Paragraph 18 of Annexe A of the "Statement of the Defence Estimates" is headed "Chemical Weapons". This paragraph of 15 lines contains a vitally important sentence:

Among NATO members, only the United States has chemical weapons; but she has produced none since 1969 and has only a limited and ageing retaliatory capability, which is not declared to NATO. That sentence raises a number of questions: what are these weapons? Where are they located? What does "not declared to NATO" really mean? One could even ask questions about their control.

Chemical and biological weapons are the subject of the Geneva protocol of 1925 which outlaws the use of these weapons. While nations agree to a no-first-use policy, it did not stop the signatories, including the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom from using them in retaliatory circumstances, nor did the protocol stop production and stockpiling. Chemical weapons are barbaric, destabilising and socially abhorrent, yet on a recent visit to SHAPE and NATO the message to the parliamentary group was quite clear. In view of the Soviet Union's superiority in chemical stocks, it is necessary further to develop this type of weapon so that NATO military commanders have it at their disposal in a battle situation.

In a world where some countries have the capacity to use nuclear weapons not only to destroy the territory of an aggressor but to destroy all living matter on earth, to develop and deploy new chemical weapons is the height of criminal insanity. As a consequence, disarmament talks would become even more difficult as a new arms race began. It would undoubtedly lead to a proliferation of committees and increased tension and suspicion.

The Government's view on chemical weapons was put during a debate in another place. Lord Trefgarne echoed the Prime Minister when he said in the House of Lords on 23 April that Britain had abandoned its chemical warfare capability in the 1950s and that that policy had not changed, nor was any change proposed. So far so good. However, I shall now return to the questions that I proposed a few moments ago, and examine together Lord Trefgarne's statement and the text that I quoted from the White Paper. I shall demonstrate clearly that the Government are more closely linked to chemical weapons than they want the public to know.

For a start, the paragraph in the White Paper is misleading, because it does not let an uninformed reader know that the USA has chemical weapon stocks in the Federal Republic of Germany. It does not tell the reader what kind of weapons are stored there, and it misleads by suggesting that they are not part of NATO's armoury.

In the debate in another place to which I referred previously, Lord Trefgarne acknowledged the existence of the US chemical weapon stocks in the Federal Republic of Germany but dismissed the information given to him by Lord May hew when he said:

I do not think he will be surprised when I tell him that it is not really a matter for me. I am surprised that a Minister can utter those words when the United Kingdom is a member of NATO and US forces —except for a few on specialist duties—are committed to NATO and armed with chemical weapons.

Lord Trefgarne also emphasised, in replying to a point raised by Lord Kennet, the need to uphold NATO's deterrent strategy of flexible response. In reply to another of Lord Kennet's points about chemical weapon release procedures, he said:

Political control of the limited US stocks is therefore naturally a matter for them. I shall return to the question of political control procedures, but, as the writers say, the plot is beginning to thicken.

Further evidence to substantiate the link is provided by David Summerhayes, disarmament adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—at the time of writing, anyway—and former head of the British delegation to the Committee on Disarmament. His article, entitled, "Chemical Weapons: Postures, plans and prospects for control", was printed in the November/December 1983 edition of "Review", which is published by the armament and disarmament information unit at Sussex university. He wrote: The US is the principal stockholder of chemical weapons for the NATO alliance, with the bulk of these stocks held as filled munitions or in storage tanks in the Continental US. But he also said that

NATO has only a small stock of US-provided chemical weapons in West Germany … while the remainder would have to be transported across the Atlantic if an attack were ever launched against NATO". That is quite explicit. It is NATO that has the chemical weapon stock, and the United Kingdom is a member of NATO.

Photo of Mr Roland Boyes Mr Roland Boyes , Houghton and Washington

No, I am trying to finish my speech.

Another piece of evidence demonstrating that this country is closer to chemical weapons than many understand is Casper Weinberger's report to Congress in 1982 that the United States' doctrine of airland battle had been used during the NATO exercise code named Reforger. Airland battle is described in the "US Army Field Manual 100–5" as follows:

By exending the battlefield and integrating conventional, nuclear, chemical and electronic means, forces can exploit enemy vulnerabilities anywhere. The Secretary of State emphasised yesterday the United Kingdom's commitment to the doctrine of flexible response, and this allows a wide range of weapons to be used in the face of an attack by an aggressor. Further, General Rogers has asked for the production by the West of the new binary chemical weapons, and for them to be stored in Europe.

The several pieces of evidence that I have cited demonstrate clearly that, despite the Government's posturing against chemical weapons, they are double-dealing with the public because they have committed British troops to a military alliance that has chemical weapons in its armoury. Furthermore, one of the countries, the USA, is developing new, more powerful and more deadly chemical weapons. We are in danger of entering a period that could lead to a disaster of catastrophic proportions. Will the Minister comment on the anticipated role of British troops if General Rogers decides to deploy chemical weapons?

Another aspect of the policy raises important questions. In reply to a parliamentary written question from my hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould), asking for a statement on the work of the Chemical Defence Establishment at Porton Down, the Minister replied that the primary role of the CDE is to carry out research and development in order to improve our defences against attack by chemical weapons. That answer hides the vast amount of research carried out for the Ministry of Defence and the CDE at Porton Down by universities and other institutions.

Earlier this year, representatives of the group of scientists working party on chemical and biological weapons met Members of Parliament in the House of Commons and stressed the concern about the growth of funding by the MOD in universities. In fact, they said that the level is so high that it threatens the whole direction of higher education. The working party also stressed that some of the research was related to chemical and biological weapons.

A further example of university involvement is contained in an advertisement in the 16 May issue of the New Scientist. Applications were invited for research studentships at the university of Southampton, and one of them was for research on

novel synthetic approaches to some of the toxins and related alkaloids. It was in the name of Dr. P. J. Parsons and CDE Porton.

What research is being carried out in our universities on chemical weapons, and how much are the Government hiding by placing the research with outside bodies? Those are very serious questions that need to be answered.

Much pressure is being exercised in the United States by the President and the military for the development and deployment of new chemical weapons, particularly the big eye bomb and the 155 mm shell. Although the binary chemical weapon, the big eye bomb, is flawed, pressure is mounting for its deployment.

According to the Washington Post of 31 May this year, Deputy Assistant Defence Secretary, Thomas J. Welch, said, in an interview, that

Big eye is lethal enough to kill enemy troops. It is a bonus and we are not going to give it away because the chemical isn't pure. Such is the haste of the Administration in the United States to get the bomb on to the soil of Europe. Those weapons are intended for Europe, and in particular for areas such as mine, in the north-east of England. Primary targets will be airfields, docks and shipyards, because the use of those weapons will be to slow down supply lines. The military would not be particularly interested in using them in battle situations because it would slow down its own troops, with the enormous amount of protective clothing needed— and, of course, the gas would spread uncontrollably.

Civilians are not to be equipped against the danger with the necessary specialist equipment. None of the research that I know of at Porton Down—and I have visited the establishment — is aimed at providing people in the docks and civilians on airfields with the necessary clothing. The people I represent would like to know, as a matter of urgency, the Government's real position, and it would help if the Government would give detailed answers to the following questions. What did the British Government actually say to President Reagan's review commission on chemical warfare when it visited Britain in March this year? What are the exact terms of and our obligations to the quadrupartite agreement on chemical weapons? How would the Government respond if big eye were deployed in Europe? Finally, what research on chemical weapons is being carried out in British universities and similar institutions?

The whole of human life on earth is already in great danger of total annihilation. A decision to manufacture and deploy chemical weapons might be the one that pushes us over the ever-looming abyss. All of us in this House have a duty to our families and to the people we represent to prevent the seemingly inevitable from happening. Only by destroying, not adding to, existing weapon stocks can we build the peace that we all desire.

The Secretary of State said that nuclear weapons had kept the peace for 40 years. I think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Mr. Silkin) destroyed that argument yesterday. However, the Secretary of State is not talking of peace; he is talking about the absence of war. I and my colleagues want to live in a world of mutual understanding between nations and real peace.

Photo of Mr Winston Churchill Mr Winston Churchill , Davyhulme 8:50 pm, 13th June 1985

I marvel that the hon. Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) could speak for 14 minutes on chemical weapons without making any reference to the 300,000 tonnes of modern binary weapons held by the Soviet Union. But, of course, we well know the standpoint of the hon. Gentleman and many of his hon. Friends. They are concerned to draw attention to outdated 20-year-old residual American offensive capability.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on the clarity of his White Paper and the wide range of information that it contained. I noted his criticism of the Defence Committee's report on the defence commitment and resources in his robust opening speech. What he is achieving through competition and increased efficiency is of very great importance. I certainly welcome what he is doing. I wish that I could share his belief that the savings will be on a scale great enough to bridge the resources gap that appears to be looming.

From next year, not only are we to abandon the 3 per cent. commitment, but in each of the two following years there will be a net reduction in real terms in defence expenditure, albeit very small. But, as the Chief of Defence Staff pointed out to the Defence Committee, the real danger is that zero growth could end up as negative growth with a shortfall of up to 7 per cent.

The position inevitably will be aggravated by the fact that forces' pay is running ahead of the normal retail price index. Technological information in modern military equipment is running ahead by a factor of two or three of that index, and there are the exchange rate effects on the Trident purchase. All those are to be found at the expense of something else in the defence budget. If my right hon. Friend's optimism does not prove well founded—and I hope that it will be—cuts in manpower, capability and commitments are inevitable.

It is tragic that the Labour party that has for so long played such an honourable part in the defence of this country should have abandoned the bipartisan policy that has guaranteed our country's peace for 40 years. The Labour party of today would make itself the Trojan horse for the fulfilment of the key Soviet strategic and foreign policy objective of the unilateral nuclear disarmament of the United Kingdom, the removal of American bases from this country and the consequent break-up of NATO as an effective deterrent to war and to Soviet expansionism in Europe.

Other speakers have referred to the report on the use of merchant shipping for defence purposes. I merely make the point that, for the first time, we as a nation do not have sufficient merchant vessels in each category to meet our war requirements. The British merchant fleet has dropped from 1,600 in 1975 to a mere 700 eight years later. It is continuing to decline at the rate of about 100 per annum. How much longer are we to tolerate the unfair competition from the Soviet Union, both in cruise ships and in freight? How much longer are we to use British taxpayers' money to give our Soviet bloc competitors an advantage? I have in mind that magnificent deal whereby we build ships for the Polish merchant fleet to put British seamen and British shipping lines out of work. Surely that should be urgently reconsidered by my right hon. Friend in consultation with his colleagues.

I come now to the strategic arms race, to SDI and to the whole question of arms control. We have reached a critical point in the strategic arms race and the prospects for arms control. President Reagan has declared that the United States will continue to observe the SALT II limitations, which will involve the decommissioning of a United States Poseidon submarine, in spite of what the United States believes to be a clear violation of the existing arms control agreement.

I welcome the President's decision, for without it the prospects of achieving in Geneva meaningful progress in arms limitation talks would have been slim indeed. However, as we are currently faced with negotiating with a new and more vigorous Soviet leadership, and as we stand on the threshold of dramatic developments in military technology, it is important to take stock of the position today.

Since the signing of the ABM treaty in 1972, the strategic balance between the superpowers has undergone a major transformation. Those fundamental changes are today placing extreme pressures on existing arms control treaties.

Since 1972, the Soviets have been working all out to acquire a first strike capability—something that they are close to achieving. Since that date, they have deployed more than 650 SS18S and SS19 missiles with a total between them of more than 5,000 independently targetable nuclear warheads, which combine the accuracy of 250 yards with a destructive power of half a megaton, which gives both of those categories of missiles a silo-busting capability. On the other hand, the Americans have no more than 900 comparable warheads, namely, the Minuteman 3, with the mark 12A warheads.

The chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Vessey, has testified that already 70 to 75 per cent. of the United States Minuteman force could be destroyed in a pre-emptive strike. That figure is expected to rise to as high as 90 or 95 per cent. within the next few years with the deployment of the fifth generation Soviet ICBMs. That degree of imbalance between the superpowers in first strike capability not only might incline the Soviet leadership towards a dangerous gamble— although that has not been inherent in its nature thus far — but more realistically makes likely a position in which the United States might feel constrained to launch on warning. Such a position is profoundly unsatisfactory, destabilising and dangerous because there would be less than 30 minutes in which to assess the threat and take decisive action. This enormously increases the possibility of mistakes.

The Soviet Union is not only far ahead of the United States in first-strike capability but has the only operational anti-ballistic missile system in the world and has demonstrated an anti-satellite capability, achieving success in four of its last five tests. In defiance of the ABM treaty, the Soviet Union has established a large phased-array radar at Krasnoyarsk in central Soviet Union and has tested its SA5 and SA12 surface-to-air missiles in an ABM mode close to 100,000 ft, far higher than any aircraft can fly.

This combination of factors has provided the urgency behind the President's decision to forge ahead with SDI, which holds profound implications for our national interests for arms control. It is not up to us whether this technology goes ahead. It is not even up to the United States. The Soviets are forging ahead. For a decade already they have been spending as much on defence as offence.

It is vital that the United Kingdom should form its view and exercise its powers of influence over our great ally to ensure that the right decisions are taken at this critical time. I trust that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will move quickly to identify those areas of research that will have application to British defence interests. It is obvious that, if we are to be participants in research, our influence will be far greater than that of a bystander. We must be involved. We must make sure that Britain's voice is heard.

9 pm

Photo of Michael Mates Michael Mates , East Hampshire

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was rather peeved at some of the points made by the Select Committee on Defence. His colleagues on the Front Bench received it with a certain stoicism which, I suppose, we can respect. If they are not pleased at the quality of our report and do not believe that we have got it right, to a large extent that is their fault. Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made much of the fact that the ability to cope with defence commitments on the present admittedly high plateau without increases had a thoroughly sound defence basis. It was militarily sound; it was acceptable; and they could cope. That may be the case today — although the Committee had its doubts—but it certainly was not the case when the decision was made two years ago. At that stage, neither my right hon. Friend nor his team had looked at the problem. It was a political decision. Therefore, it was totally reasonable for the Select Committee to look at what might be a perfectly correct and sound political decision to ascertain the defence and military fall-out from that decision.

If we got it wrong — my right hon. Friend the Minister of State said that he would have come up with a different answer—I say, "Give us further and better particulars" because we want to arrive at a sensible solution and to form an informed judgment for the House and the country. I speak only for myself, but I suspect that I would carry my Select Committee colleagues with me. If we have not got it right, it is because of the decision taken at the highest level by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and his team that there are certain aspects of future defence policy that they are not prepared to share with the Defence Committee. That saddens me. Perhaps they do not trust us. I have had the privilege of being on that Select Committee for six years. Not one secret or confidence has leaked out. Whatever the Government have told us— they have given us some extremely sensitive information—it has remained within the four walls of the Committee Room. We have never let anything get out, so the Government should trust us.

If the Government believe that they must be diverse in their options during the next four or five years, that is something that, again, the Committee would understand. The Committee believes that there is a serious problem ahead. We have tried to report on it. If we have not got it right, it is largely the fault of Ministers and officials in the Ministry of Defence who have not shared the problems with us as we hoped.

My next point concerns Trident and the nuclear deterrent. I shall skate over the argument quickly. The leader of the SDP made an uncharacteristically bad speech yesterday. I say "uncharacteristically" because normally he is pretty sound on defence. Yesterday, he was in tremendous difficulty because he had the CND wing of the alliance sitting behind him and many young Liberals sitting outside waiting to jump on any sensible defence remarks that he made to show that the Liberal wing of the alliance speaks for a very different voice from that of the right hon. Gentleman.

The right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) remarked on the horror that would be felt in the United States. He said that last week he had been in the Congress when the Americans realised the consequences of our decision not to increase the defence budget from 1986. We went there just before Easter and spoke to the Senate armed services committee—Senator Nunn, who in the past has been critical of our European defence efforts, was there— and to the House armed services committee. They were well aware of the difficulties that we would face because they were facing up to them. They were looking at the consequences of what would happen.

I am sure the House will agree that, were the Americans or the Alliance to be alarmed because we were unable to devote more financial resources to our defence budget over the next few years, that would be nothing to the alarm and instability within the Alliance that would follow a unilaterial decision by the United Kingdom to opt out of the nuclear business.

I shall not go into the military arguments, but I hope that the Minister will say something about the political arguments. They are much too neglected, and many people outside this House do not understand them. We must consider the effect among the people of the United States if it was felt that we were opting out of a responsibility that we have carried for the last 30 years —[Interruption.] The right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) may laugh, but there is a streak of isolationism in the United States, as anyone who has spent some time there will realise. It is under the surface. So long as America feels that Europe is making a sufficient effort in the defence of the West things will be fine, but if it believes that we shall merely load more responsibilities on to the United States and live under their defence umbrella that will have a destabilising effect.

The consequences within the European part of the NATO Alliance will also be extremely grave. We occupy a very special position among the European partners of NATO, and we can look with pride on what we have done. However, if we declined to contribute our nuclear deterrent to NATO, we would fundamentally change the relationships and responsibilities within that Alliance. That would change the whole perspective of the Alliance, vis-a-vis West Germany, which provides more conventional forces and assets in the European theatre than we are able to do. This would unbalance the way in which the Alliance is structured and the way in which we play such a leading part, both politically and militarily.

We may talk about the military balance between conventional and nuclear forces and the desirability of a deterrent which, while cheaper, would be less effective—

Photo of Michael Mates Michael Mates , East Hampshire

I notice that you are about to bring my remarks to an end, Mr. Speaker, but I was told that I could speak until 9.10 pm.

Political destabilisation would in the long term be far more serious for the Alliance, because we might be able to overcome any military destabilisation with American assistance.

Photo of Derek Conway Derek Conway , Shrewsbury and Atcham 9:07 pm, 13th June 1985

As a non-member of the Select Committee on Defence, it is nice to have an opportunity to contribute to the debate. I must declare an interest, because I still serve with the Territorial Army in the light infantry battalion, and that will add a certain bias to my few remarks.

Paragraph 418 of the statement, which relates to the British Army of the Rhine, says that 55,000 troops are based in BAOR, with a further 100,000 reinforcements, but many hon. Members may not appreciate that 50 per cent. of infantry reinforcements are formed in the Territorial Army.

Paragraph 420 explains that 1(BR) Corps faces a substantial tank threat. In that regard, I was delighted to hear the Secretary of State announce yesterday that a sixth regiment is to get Challenger main battle tanks. I hold a biased view on this matter, because the engines are manufactured in my constituency. That was an extremely welcome announcement, as was the announcement that we are to get more MCV80s, the armoured fighting vehicle, and Saxon, the armoured personnel carrier. They are manufactured in Shropshire, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Hawksley), and fortunately many of my constituents are employed there.

The statement goes on to mention the role of the Milan anti-tank guided weapon system and anti-tank weaponry. I hope that while we all call for more expenditure on conventional defence we shall envisage a greater establishment of that anti-tank guided weapons system for the Territorial Army element—15 and 49 brigades— which forms part of the reinforcements for 1(BR) Corps.

Only a few weeks ago the Commander of the United Kingdom Field Army and Inspector General of the Territorial Army spoke in the media of the balance between the Territorial Army and the Regular Army which provides the main core of instructors for the Territorial Army. He rightly reminded politicians that, although he welcomed the expansion of the Territorial Army, as I hope we all welcome it, we must bear in mind the demands that it places on the Regular Army and the instructors that it is required to provide for the 73,000-strong Territorial Army.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State referred to that welcome expansion. The increase in equipment is also welcome, but we must also keep a sharp eye on morale in the Territorial Army. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of State will be able to give some encouragement today to those members of the Territorial Army who are unemployed. The issue has been raised many times since I came to the House and Ministers from both the MOD and the DHSS have promised that it will be investigated. Those who are honest enough to declare that they receive pay from the Territorial Army have their benefit stopped immediately by the DHSS, although there may be a delay of six weeks and often much longer before they receive their Territorial Army pay. That causes great hardship to those who give their∗ time and declare their earnings legitimately, as so many in the black market do not. I hope that the Government will take this on board as a matter of continuing concern to Members in all parts of the House who support the Territorial Army.

Finally, I should place on record a special word of thanks to the employers who support the Territorial Army.

Their business is clearly affected, as they lose staff for at least 14 days training per year. Fortunately, however, employers in this country are prepared to do that and to encourage the Territorial Army in that way. I am sure that that support is greatly welcomed by Members in all parts of the House.

Mr. Martin J.O'Neill:

In this lengthy two-day debate many hon. Members have participated. The debate has perhaps lacked cut and thrust because with the 10-minute rule people are naturally reluctant to give way unduly. I do not wish to break any conventions in that respect but if the opportunity arises we shall have to see what happens.

The debate was preceded by a variety of leaks and considerable speculation, much of which seems to have been distressingly accurate in respect of the Secretary of State. Virtually everyone who spoke referred to the report produced by the Select Committee on Defence and to the evidence that that Committee considered. Members in all parts of the House agree that the spending spree is over or at least is coming to an end. The right hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) said that more money would have to be found even from this most parsimonious of Governments, but I do not think that any extra money will be forthcoming so the anxieties expressed by Members in all parts of the House about their pet projects are doubtless well founded. Certainly, I do not think that there is much likelihood of adopting the policy suggested by the SDP—that everything would be all right if we would only employ sea-launched cruise missiles, which that part of the alliance at any rate seems to regard as the acceptable face of nuclear war.

Our amendment makes it clear that we want no part of Trident and that a Labour Government would cancel it forthwith. We have heard many speeches for and against Trident, including some rather reluctant support from Conservative Members, but the Government seem determined to proceed with the project regardless of the cost. There is now time for an assessment of the cost. We have had the debate about rising and falling exchange rates, but it is important that there be some detailed examination of costs. The Select Committee would appear to be the most appropriate vehicle for such an examination.

In 1982, missiles would have accounted for 17 per cent. of the cost, or £1,278 million. That cost appears to have dropped to 14 per cent. in 1985. If those figures are correct, they can have been caused by one of three reasons. First, missiles cost 30 per cent. less in dollars than they did in 1982. Secondly, the reduction might be accounted for by a drop in production costs in dollars, although that is unlikely. Thirdly, some of the missile costs might have been switched elsewhere. Spending less on missiles would be consistent with having only three Trident submarines. That option has not been discussed today, but it must be exercising the Government. It is possible to have three submarines — one in refit, one in base and one operational. That would be the last face-saving gesture if the Government wished to retain the independent nuclear deterrent.

My hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett) considered communication and control facilities, and my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) referred to the problems of communication and control in the south Atlantic. If we could not get that right—nobody denies the difficulties—the facilities that we operate for Polaris must be upgraded. We do not want Trident but were we to have it and to have a system of communication and control—

Photo of Hon. Adam Butler Hon. Adam Butler , Bosworth

This seems to be an obsession of the Labour party today.

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

The Minister says that this is an obsession. It is an illustration of a cost which the Government have never stated. The Secretary of State slid over it yesterday and the Minister of State refused to answer questions about it today. Nevertheless, it could cost upwards of £600 million. It has never been made clear to the House whether that cost has been included in the budget or whether it will have to come along later. In the light of experience of the increasing cost of such projects, it is only reasonable to raise the matter now. We want to know whether £600 million is an accurate figure for a command and control system, whether it has been included in the budget and, if it has not, where the money will come from.

We are extremely worried about other aspects of the procurement side of Trident. The claims about the amount of work which would go to British companies have not been met. If the costings done on an exchange rate of $178 to the pound are to be taken account of now, when the exchange rate is about $1·25 to the pound—

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

$1·28 today, $1·26 yesterday and $1·24 the day before. Unlike the right hon. Member for Spelthorne (Sir H. Atkins), I have not had the luxury of an opportunity to look at the tapes this evening. Instead of quibbling about figures such as that, the Defence Select Committee, of which the right hon. Gentleman is Chairman, should examine this major item of expenditure again and seek clear information about these matters, not least the British share of contracts for the project, which seem at the moment to be at a depressingly low level.

Photo of Mr Keith Hampson Mr Keith Hampson , Leeds North West

How does the hon. Gentleman answer the question that the costs of the Tornado programme were half as much again as Trident on a much smaller budget? Therefore, is not all this spurious? Is not the Labour party just against Trident, with no intention of moving the £500 million a year that would be saved into any conventional area?

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised that point. It is about time that we pinned this one to the wall. Frankly, they are not valid comparisons— the two budgets are extremely different. When Tornado was being funded, it was on the basis of a rising budget. We have been told that at best there will be level funding for the next four years. Therefore, there is no comparison on that basis.

The impact on our conventional defence—our "real defence", as our amendment says— is all too clear. Virtually every speech made by hon. Members on both sides of the House has returned to the theme that we do not have enough money, and certainly the biggest single element in the budget will be Trident expenditure.

More than anything else, reference has been made to the provision of type 23 frigates. We welcome the announcement; we are happy about it. However, we want to know from the Minister when the hulls will be laid, and whether the target of providing us with a fleet of 50 ships will be met by the end of the decade. The Minister of State for Defence Procurement did not make that clear. He did not tell us what would be happening beyond next year. The year after that there will be a Labour Government, and a different set of priorities. However, the Government of the day owe it to the Navy and the country to explain what will happen in the ordering of type 23s.

Many ships will be up to 25 years old within a couple of years, and they will have to be replaced. Of the 12 frigates and destroyers that are at present on order, three were ordered under the Labour Government. There will be increasing problems with aging craft in a short time. If the Government want to secure a fleet of 50 ships which, by and large, is agreed as being desirable on both sides of the House, they will have to set in train a more positive plan of ordering than the present plan, given that it will take between five and six years from the date of ordering to completion.

The Minister did not intervene yesterday when the right hon. Member for Spelthorne, the Chairman of the Select Committee, attacked my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) about the costing for those frigates. The figure of £110 million has been quoted. A figure of £150 million was quoted in yesterday's edition of The Times. Perhaps the Minister will let the House know which of those figures is correct.

Photo of Mr Humphrey Atkins Mr Humphrey Atkins , Spelthorne

It is in the Estimates.

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

It is there, but it has been in there before, and it has changed. The most up-to-date costings suggest that it is more than that. Perhaps the Minister will give a revised figure.

If we cannot get such information, we want to know when the hulls will be laid. Many hon. Members were concerned about the Secretary of State's response to the other ships that were being requested—the amphibious class. Many people took offence at the Secretary of State's carping criticism of officials, the people whom he was seeking to blame for the leaks and the campaign for replacements for Hermes and Invincible. Apparently, people leaking under a Labour Government are acceptable and should be cheered along, but people who do so under a Conservative Government are to be condemned.

We realise that not for those individuals will be the fate that was provided for Sarah Tisdall, because they are too influential. What they are saying has too much support on Conservative Benches. At the end of the day, the Government will have to provide the backing for amphibious craft that the country wants. The Government will take on junior clerks and clerical officers, but they will not take on the brass hats—they will simply try to insult them from the Dispatch Box.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House have expressed anxiety about the merchant marine. We are grateful to the Select Committee for its report, and I understand why, at this stage, the Minister is reluctant to debate it. However, I cannot stress strongly enough the purposes of the Merchant Navy, which include the transatlantic reinforcement of Europe, the reinforcement of Europe from the United Kingdom, transferring British and American equipment to Europe and direct support for the Royal Navy. The gross registered tonnage of the fleet has declined by about 59 per cent.—from 50 million tonnes in 1975 to 18·642 million tonnes last year—and the number of ships has declined from more than 1,600 to just over 700. Those figures are extremely worrying, because we know the role that the merchant marine played in the south Atlantic and that it would have to play in any conventional war.

We know from the Select Committee report that the Government are confused. Paragraph 13 states:

The use of statistics on several different bases does not … affect the actual availability of hulls needed for defence purposes. Nevertheless, it is essential to assess defence needs as a proportion of the total fleet; and the use, even by the Government, of different statistics for the latter has confused debate and has made the Government's response less convincing.

Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Romsey and Waterside

Will the hon. Gentleman pay tribute to what my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, whose presence on the Front Bench this evening is appropriate, said about the Merchant Navy? Is not the Minister who should be here the Chancellor of the Exchequer, since it is fiscal policy that is at fault? It is one reason why there is so much flagging out and why, because of unfair competition from overseas countries that subsidise their fleets and practise protectionism, the merchant fleet is declining at such a rate. Should not the Chancellor be here?

Photo of Mr Martin O'Neill Mr Martin O'Neill , Clackmannan

The hon. Gentleman has made his point, despite being denied the opportunity to make a speech. The Opposition believe that the Chancellor should be blamed for almost everything. However, I am grateful that the Under-Secretary of State for Transport is here this evening.

The Select Committee report is littered with examples of confused thinking from the Government. There is confusion about the availability of ships for requisition and about the state of ships that have been flagged out. We await the report of the shipping economics advisory group. It will probably take both Departments about two months to come to a conclusion. When they reach a conclusion, I hope that it will be the subject of a debate in Government time. I hope that, as a result of the Select Committee report, we shall have a clear definition of the collection of data, the instructions or advice that the consultants were given. So far, there has been a clear lack of preparation and foresight by both Departments in giving any instructions to the consultants. That is not in keeping with the Prime Minister's statement that the Merchant Navy should be regarded as the fourth part of our defences.

Ships' crews are another difficulty. Not only do we need ships, but we need men to serve on them. There has been a steady outflow of men from the Merchant Navy and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) said, the Government take into account men on oil-related work in the North sea, which might not be the most appropriate training for the work that would be undertaken during a war. If that requires Government money, as has been said, we may be able to use the Department of Transport, because if the Ministry of Defence does not have the money perhaps the Department of Transport can be touched for some of the resources required.

Other points have been mentioned. The royal dockyards and SDI were referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West and the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Miss Fookes). Unfortunately, the hon.

Lady is not here. Her request for an extension of the consultative period on the royal dockyards was a perfect example of the ingenuity of a Back Bencher who does not want to appear too disloyal to her Government.

There is no way that there will be a change in the timetable for consultations, as far as I can see. If there is a change in that consultative process the legislative programme for them will be scuppered. The Government would not then be able to rush through the Bill next year and, as they hope, have it passed before a general election.

In the long term, of course, there is the issue of star wars. It will not go away. The current special diplomatic initiative of the Reagan Administration will be with us for some time. I am confident that Conservative Back Benchers are somewhat out of step with the Foreign Secretary who seems to be a good deal more sceptical about the value of SDI than most of the people who have slavishly followed the propaganda that the American Administration have been pouring out.

Any suggestion that we shall see a practical demonstration of SDI within three years is wishful thinking. It will be impossible. I hope that it will not happen because it will be at the expense of the ABM treaty. I am relieved to know that we cannot be involved in the project because we cannot afford it. Thoughts of our hi-tech industries becoming involved in it are unrealistic. Given the budget about which we are talking today, no amount of competitive tendering, fixed-price contracts or shaving of expenditure will enable us to indulge officially in the star wars fantasies.

The Labour party's responsibility towards defence is to ensure that the country plays its role in NATO and to ensure that a Britain free of nuclear bases can assist in restoring stability to Europe and, I hope, to the rest of the world by committing the resources necessary to prove to the Americans, our other Alliance partners and the Soviet Union that we are interested in peace and disarmament but that we are prepared to defend Britain in a way that is consistent with our resources and our standing in the world. The White Paper does not do that, and, therefore, I ask my right hon. and hon. Friends to join me in opposing the motion.

Photo of John Stanley John Stanley Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces) 9:33 pm, 13th June 1985

If the hon. Member for Clackmannan (Mr. O'Neill) wants his party to play its role in NATO, it should take some account of what NATO thinks of the Labour party's current policies which it regards as detrimental to NATO's interests.

We have had an interesting debate. I am sorry that some of my hon. Friends who have waited patiently through one day, and possibly two, have been unable to contribute.

The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North (Mr. McNamara) made a far-reaching statement on nuclear weapons policy on behalf of the official Opposition. I listened carefully. He said that his party's policy was to get rid of all nuclear weapons in this country. I should be grateful if he would clarify—I shall of course give way to him—whether it is the Labour party's policy to get rid of British nuclear weapons as well as American nuclear weapons.

Photo of John Stanley John Stanley Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for confirming that. I hope that he and the rest of his party are giving considerable thought to the extraordinarily anomalous and ridiculous position of depriving British Armed Forces of nuclear weapons in this country and having nuclear weapons still at their disposal elsewhere. That is a ludicrously inconsistent policy, and he should recognise it.

Much the most telling speech from Opposition Members came from the hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George), who told his colleagues that being a Socialist does not mean denying the citizenry adequate defence. He stressed the difficulty that the Labour party would face in convincing British citizens at the general election that they would be adequately defended by Labour policies. He was absolutely right.

My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Drake (Miss Fookes) referred to our policy on dockyards. She asked whether a contractor would be able to manage for more than five or six years. Weė have said that at the end of the initial contract the management of the dockyards will be thrown open to fresh tenders. Clearly, that is the best way of ensuring adequate competition, and keen prices and performance. However, there is no reason why a contractor whose performance has been good should not win a renewal of his contract.

My hon. Friend also asked about compulsory redundancies. To make the necessary improvements in the dockyards we need to begin efficiency measures now before the introduction of contractor management. We believe from our experience that the bulk of any jobs reductions can be achieved by natural wastage, early retirement and voluntary redundancy. While compulsory redundancies cannot be ruled out, we expect them to be largely avoided.

The hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) asked about comparisons between refitting Euryalus and Otter in the private sector and the cost of work done in the royal dockyards. A direct comparison with a Leander frigate and a submarine being refitted at Devonport will be made, and the Ministry is establishing a special exercise to ensure that as detailed and accurate a comparison as possible is made.

Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Dunfermline West

The Minister's earlier remarks do not sound as if the Government are open minded about the three options. He has given a far indication that the Government's preferred option is the only option and, therefore, that the consultation period is a farce.

Photo of John Stanley John Stanley Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)

The hon. Gentleman would not be right in coming to that conclusion. We have made it clear that our mind is open and that we are conducting consultations.

A great deal of the debate has inevitably been taken up with weapon systems and the question of the defence budgets, to which I shall return. As hon. Members pointed out, the men and women of the armed services are every bit as important. Those who keep aircraft serviceable around the clock in the freezing Falklands weather, those who live and work cheek by jowl for months on end in submarines, and those daily at risk of bomb or bullet in Northern Ireland are just a few of those in our Armed Forces of whom our country and those of all political complexions are justly proud.

The Government are aware of their responsibility to give those men and women a fair and proper reward for their skills and for the demanding and sometimes dangerous circumstances in which they serve. I can fairly say that the Government's record on looking after the Armed Forces pay and conditions is thoroughly creditable and, certainly, a significant improvement on that of our predecessors.

When we came to office in May 1979 the annual rate for premature voluntary retirement exits of men across the three services had risen to 4·4 per cent., which is the highest level recorded during the past 10 years. In addition, the Labour Government had allowed service pay to fall significantly behind the rate recommended by the Armed Forces Pay Review Body. In contrast, I am glad to say that in 1984–85 the rate of premature voluntary retirement exits was down to barely more than half what it was when we came to office.

In addition, as a result of the full and non-phased implementation of the AFPRB's 1985 pay recommendation announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister last week, service pay is currently right up to the recommended AFPRB rate. Indeed, apart from a seven-month period last year, that has been the case throughout the entire six years we have been in office.

Photo of Mr Paul Hawkins Mr Paul Hawkins , South West Norfolk

I entirely agree with what my right hon. Friend has been saying. However, will he look into the question of amenities at some stations, particularly RAF stations, where the facilities for service men, their wives and families have fallen considerably? In my constitutency, at RAF Marham, the swimming pool and theatre have been closed for two or three years.

Photo of John Stanley John Stanley Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Minister for the Armed Forces)

My hon. Friend has ingeniously introduced a constituency point which he has already raised with me. We shall look into the matter. It does not offset the basic point that I made, namely, that on service pay and conditions generally we have done creditably since 1979.

A number of hon. Members referred to the strategic defence initiative. I do not disagree with those who see the SDI as of potentially profound significance for stability. But I disagree with those who see it as an initiative of the United States alone. As my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman) pointed out, the Soviet Union was first in the field with an SDI research programme, which dates back to the 1960s and which has included extensive research into technologies directly relevant to ballistic missile defence including high-energy lasers, particle beams and heavy lift capability.

Moreover, the Soviet Union has already gone far further down the track of ballistic missile defence than has the United States in terms of actual deployment. The Soviet Union has the only deployed ABM missile field — that around Moscow — to which it is, of course, entitled under the ABM treaty. The Soviet Union has the only deployed operational anti-satellite system.

The Soviet SDI programme, about which we have heard little or nothing in the speeches of Labour Members, is well described in the latest edition of "Soviet Military Power," a copy of which is in the Library and the assessment in which, in this area, we broadly agree.

In view of the high dependence of the entire nuclear deterrence posture of the West on ballistic missile systems, both land and sea-launched, it would be risky in the extreme to turn a blind eye to the extensive ballistic missile defence research programme being undertaken in the Soviet Union and not to develop an equivalent research programme in the West.

I am glad to note that the Select Committee takes the same view. I also endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Sir F. Bennett) said about the contribution that the American SDI research decision has made to getting comprehensive arms control negotiations at Geneva under way.

I come to the question of the adequacy of the public expenditure provision for defence in the years ahead, a subject which many hon. Members have raised. My right hon. Friend dealt with this yesterday. While I do not want to duplicate what he said, I wish to make three specific points.

First, we are, happily, not starting from the baseline of defence expenditure that the Labour party promised to introduce at the last election, a baseline of cutting the United Kingdom's defence expenditure to the same proportion of resources as the other major European countries

If that policy were followed today, it would mean that Britain's defence budget this year would not be £18 billion but £12 billion, a cut of £6 billion, which would be achievable only by the total decimation of our conventional equipment programme. Happily, thanks to this Government's policies, we look ahead with defence expenditure lifted on to a vastly higher plateau than it was in 1979.

Some will say, "Yes, that's all very well, but you now have Trident which we didn't have in 1979." To them, I would reply that they should compare the average annual expenditure on Trident during its procurement period which on present figures can be put at some £500 million a year, with the real increase in the size of the defence budget this year compared to 1978–79, which is some £3,000 million—some six times greater than the average annual cost of Trident. I can only say that if Labour Members want to claim that the provision for defence expenditure today is out of line with our defence commitments, then they had better acknowledge it must have been monumentally out of line in 1979.

My second point is that the level of expenditure on our conventional forces is of a quite different order of magnitude today compared to what it was six years ago. I have just said that defence spending this year will be some £3,000 million higher in real terms than when we came into office. The House may be interested to know that it breaks down into approximately £600 million more for the Army, £1,100 million for the Navy, and £1,300 million for the RAF. Most of those sums represent increased expenditure on our conventional forces, and they are very big annual figures indeed.

My last point on defence expenditure is that it must be stressed that we are one nation in a 16 nation alliance— an alliance in which the burden of defence is shared by all and in which all are expected to pull their weight.

There is no doubt about Britain pulling her weight. Of the major European members of NATO, we have the highest proportion of our GDP going to defence. We have the highest defence expenditure per head, despite being well down the European league table of GDP per head. Other NATO members undoubtedly could do more, but on the figures that I have given there are no reasonable grounds at all for saying that Britain is not taking a full and fair share of Alliance defence expenditure.

The single most important decision in Britain's defence policy is whether we should continue to have our own independent nuclear deterrent. Yesterday, the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) said that he hoped that we would not be left with the alternatives of having Trident or no deterrent at all. The hon. Member for Woolwich (Mr. Cartwright) echoed that point today. I am sorry to disappoint them, but those are indeed the only sensible alternatives—Trident or no deterrent.

The other choices that the right hon. Member for Devonport tossed around yesterday make neither military nor financial sense to Britain. The right hon. Gentleman suggested replacing Polaris with another version of Polaris. That would be nonsense. The Polaris production line has been shut for over 15 years. It would cost a fortune to recreate it, and as the 1980 Open Government Document said in dismissing this option in paragraph 47:

Missile system costs could well be twice those of Trident, for a smaller and less assured capability". The right hon. Member for Devonport then suggested going into partnership with the French on their M5 missile. I can only say that there are no grounds for thinking that such a partnership would produce a cheaper deterrent for Britain, or one as effective as Trident.

The right hon. Gentleman then returned to his old hobby-horse of a sea-launched cruise missile deterrent. His argument that we should choose this option for our deterrent because the Americans are deploying sea-launched cruise missiles ignores the fundamental point that the Americans can afford both a primary ballistic and a secondary cruise deterrent at sea. We cannot. We have only one option.

We have to choose the most cost-effective system and for the reasons that I spelt out in detail in the Navy debate on 29 November, the most cost-effective option is unquestionably a submarine-launched ballistic missile. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Mr. Amery) rightly said today, "It would be a criminal waste of money if we were to invest in a second rate deterrent that would not deter."

For Britain to base her strategic deterrent on cruise missiles would mean both a more expensive deterrent and a less certain one. It would require many more missiles, and submarines, and it would be more vulnerable. The Sunday Times, in much the most detailed and dispassionate analysis of the deterrent options carried out by any newspaper in this Parliament, came to this conclusion:

Britain's deterrent needs to be credible in the Kremlin's eyes and that means it must be invulnerable. Cruise carries too many risks to be certain of deterring the Soviet Union in a crisis. We conclude that Britain made the right choice in opting for Trident and that we can afford it". The right hon. Member for Devonport has a fairly awkward choice to make about where he stands on the future of Britain's deterrent. Either he can continue to be nearly a lone voice advocating a non-credible deterrent that clearly is a bad buy, or he can join the Liberal one-sided disarmers on the Benches behind him. Or perhaps he will do the sensible thing and agree with the Conservative party that Trident is the only answer if we are to have a nuclear deterrent.

As for the cost of Trident, there are those who have expressed the view that we cannot afford it, but our view most certainly is that we can afford it. By way of perspective, it is worth pointing out that the average amount per year that we shall be spending on buying Trident is no more than the amount that we spend each year upon research and development just for military aircraft, it is only half as much as we spend each year on training, it is only a third as much as we spend each year on the British Army of the Rhine and it is only one sixth as much as we spend each year on service pay and allowances. We believe that Trident is affordable and that it makes good sense for this country to have it.

The essence of the defence case for Britain maintaining her deterrent is the same today when it is rejected by the Opposition parties as it was in the 1960s and 1970s when they accepted it. Trident adds significantly to deterrence overall by resting NATO's deterrence on more than a single national source. For that reason, NATO supports us in maintaining the credibility of our strategic nuclear deterrent. Trident will give an increase in deterrence vastly greater than can be obtained by any other method of spending the same sum on conventional weapons, and Trident represents an ultimate insurance for Britain against nuclear blackmail.

In election after election the British people have consistently shown that they favour the maintenance of Britain's nuclear deterrent, and we are in no doubt that their judgment is right.

I now want to turn to another extremely important subject that has been raised on a number of occasions during the debate, namely, the future of American nuclear bases in Britain. The Leader of the Opposition in a recent television interview reportedly said that under a Labour Government the removal of American nuclear bases from Britain would take place.

Within a year, and certainly not much longer. The avowed intention of the Labour party, repeated by the right hon. Member for Llanelli (Mr. Davies) again yesterday, to boot the Americans out of their nuclear bases in this country is profoundly short-sighted and, if carried out, would be profoundly damaging. Militarily it makes no sense at all. When my hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed), in an acute intervention yesterday, asked the right hon. Member for Llanelli whether he accepted the need against Soviet submarines for the nuclear depth charges provided by the Americans and operated from this country, the right hon. Gentleman had no answer whatsoever to offer. —[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, North, I agree, thought up an answer overnight. He came to the conclusion that American nuclear depth charges are militarily useless. I can only say to him that the entire Labour Government, from 1974 to 1979, took a totally different view.

I hope that the Labour party is not under the illusion that the repercussions of telling the Americans to go home would be limited just to Britain. They would not be. The repercussions would be felt across the European NATO countries, they would be felt across the Atlantic, and they would be felt not least on Capitol Hill. In Europe, if a British Government sent the Americans packing certain other Governments in NATO countries would undoubtedly come under pressure to follow suit.

Across the Atlantic, the reaction in Congress to American eviction from Britain is not difficult to predict. It would be to say, "Well, if you don't want us in Europe, you needn't have us, and we will start thinning out our European conventional forces as well as the nuclear ones that you don't want, and save our valuable foreign exchange". It is certain that that would be the reaction. Therefore, this particular Labour policy could well result in setting in motion a chain of events leading to a substantial reduction of the American presence in Europe — a presence which has been a key element in the successful maintenance of deterrence in the post-war period. That is why that piece of Labour party policy is profoundly irresponsible. But it is not only profoundly irresponsible; it is also glaringly inconsistent.

The Labour party professes itself to be committed to NATO, and the Opposition spokesman repeated that commitment at the end of his speech. As a member of NATO our own country, like every other NATO country, automatically enjoys and willingly accepts the protection of the American nuclear umbrella that is provided by American nuclear weapons based outside Europe and within Europe. For that reason, every British Government, since 1948, including every post-war Labour Government, have willingly accepted the basing of American nuclear-capable aircraft in Britain. They have also, since 1960, willingly accepted the basing of American nuclear missile-firing submarines in British waters.

If we accept the benefits of NATO, including American nuclear protection, it is weak, faint-hearted and morally indefensible to say that we want the protection of American nuclear weapons provided that they are based in somebody else's country. The policy of serving notice to quit on the American nuclear bases in Britain is a policy without either defence responsibility or moral justification.

The Government have carried through a major improvement in defence over the past six years. While most other expenditure programmes have had to be reduced, expenditure on defence has been increased by approximately one fifth in real terms—a very substantial uplift. I am sure that no other Government, of whatever political complexion, would have given such a degree of priority to defence expenditure over the past six years as this one. That priority is very necessary against the rate of improvement in Warsaw pact capabilities, which shows no sign whatever of slowing down.

Our uplift in defence expenditure has enabled us to restore pay comparability for the Armed Forces and to halve the record rate of premature voluntary exits that we found on coming into office. It is enabling us to carry through a massive and comprehensive re-equipment and modernisation programme of our conventional forces in all three services. It is enabling us to bring about a much needed expansion of our reserves and territorials. It is enabling us to build up war stocks and to make improvements in sustainability, to which the Warsaw pact has been devoting huge resources in recent years.

We have not just been in the business of spending more money. We are equally in the business of getting better value for money and greater efficiency wherever we can. My right hon. Friend's radical reorganisation of the Department is without question a major improvement and a major success. The drive for still more efficent use of service manpower is being carried through in all three services, and with the striking result already achieved by the Army. The drive for more competition is already showing some significant cost savings, and more savings will undoubtedly follow.

The Government have properly discharged their fundamental responsibility to maintain the peace with freedom that we have enjoyed in Europe these past 40 years, and we shall continue to discharge that responsibility.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 157, Noes 367.

Division No. 237][10 pm
AYES
Anderson, DonaldHardy, Peter
Archer, Rt Hon PeterHarman, Ms Harriet
Ashley, Rt Hon JackHarrison, Rt Hon Walter
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Haynes, Frank
Barren, KevinHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Beckett, Mrs MargaretHeffer, Eric S.
Bell, StuartHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Bermingham, GeraldHome Robertson, John
Bidwell, SydneyHowell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Blair, AnthonyHughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)
Boyes, RolandHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Bray, Dr JeremyHughes, Roy (Newport East)
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Janner, Hon Greville
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) John, Brynmor
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Buchan, NormanLamond, James
Caborn, RichardLeadbitter, Ted
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Leighton, Ronald
Campbell, IanLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Campbell-Savours, DaleLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Canavan, DennisLitherland, Robert
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Clarke, ThomasLofthouse, Geotfrey
Clay, RobertMcCartney, Hugh
Clwyd, Mrs AnnMcDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) McKelvey, William
Cohen, HarryMacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Coleman, DonaldMcNamara, Kevin
Conlan, BernardMcTaggart, Robert
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Madden, Max
Corbett, RobinMarek, Dr John
Corbyn, JeremyMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Cowans, HarryMartin, Michael
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Maxton, John
Craigen, J. M. Meacher, Michael
Cunliffe, LawrenceMikardo, Ian
Cunningham, Dr JohnMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Dalyell, TarnMiller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Deakins, EricMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Dewar, DonaldNellist, David
Dixon, DonaldO'Brien, William
Dobson, FrankO'Neill, Martin
Dormand, JackOrme, Rt Hon Stanley
Douglas, DickPark, George
Dubs, AlfredParry, Robert
Duffy, A. E. P. Patchett, Terry
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Pike, Peter
Eastham, KenPowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Edwards, Bob (Wh'mpt'n SE) Randall, Stuart
Ewing, HarryRedmond, M.
Fatchett, DerekRees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Faulds, AndrewRichardson, Ms Jo
Fisher, MarkRoberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Flannery, MartinRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelSedgemore, Brian
Forrester, JohnShore, Rt Hon Peter
Foster, DerekShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Foulkes, GeorgeShort, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Silkin, Rt Hon J.
Garrett, W. E. Skinner, Dennis
George, BruceSmith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Golding, JohnSnape, Peter
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Soley, Clive
Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Spearing, Nigel
Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)White, James
Stott, RogerWilliams, Rt Hon A.
Strang, GavinWinnick, David
Straw, JackWoodall, Alec
Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)Young, David (Bolton SE)
Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Tinn, JamesTellers for the Ayes:
Torney, TomMr. John McWilliam and
Wardell, Gareth (Gower)Mr. Allen McKay.
Weetch, Ken
NOES
Adley, RobertCope, John
Aitken, JonathanCormack, Patrick
Alexander, RichardCorrie, John
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelCouchman, James
Alton, DavidCranborne, Viscount
Amery, Rt Hon JulianCrouch, David
Amess, DavidCurrie, Mrs Edwina
Ancram, MichaelDickens, Geoffrey
Arnold, TomDorrell, Stephen
Ashby, DavidDouglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Ashdown, PaddyDover, Den
Aspinwall, Jackdu Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H.Dunn, Robert
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Durant, Tony
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Dykes, Hugh
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset)Eggar, Tim
Baldry, TonyEmery, Sir Peter
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Evennett, David
Batiste, SpencerEyre, Sir Reginald
Beith, A. J. Fairbairn, Nicholas
Bellingham, HenryFallon, Michael
Bendall, VivianFarr, Sir John
Bennett, Rt Hon Sir FredericFavell, Anthony
Benyon, WilliamFinsberg, Sir Geoffrey
Best, KeithFletcher, Alexander
Bevan, David GilroyFookes, Miss Janet
Biffen, Rt Hon JohnForman, Nigel
Biggs-Davison, Sir JohnForsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Blackburn, JohnForth, Eric
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir PeterFowler, Rt Hon Norman
Bonsor, Sir NicholasFox, Marcus
Bottomley, PeterFranks, Cecil
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaFreeman, Roger
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n)Freud, Clement
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Gale, Roger
Boyson, Dr RhodesGalley, Roy
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGardiner, George (Reigate)
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)
Bright, GrahamGarel-Jones, Tristan
Brinton, TimGilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Glyn, Dr Alan
Browne, JohnGoodhart, Sir Philip
Bruinvels, PeterGoodlad, Alastair
Bryan, Sir PaulGorst, John
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Gow, Ian
Buck, Sir AntonyGower, Sir Raymond
Budgen, NickGrant, Sir Anthony
Burt, AlistairGreenway, Harry
Butcher, JohnGregory, Conal
Butler, Hon AdamGriffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Butterfill, JohnGriffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Grist, Ian
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Ground, Patrick
Carttiss, MichaelGummer, John Selwyn
Cartwright, JohnHamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Cash, WilliamHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHampson, Dr Keith
Chapman, SydneyHancock, Mr. Michael
Chope, ChristopherHanley, Jeremy
Churchill, W. S. Hannam, John
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)Hargreaves, Kenneth
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Harris, David
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Harvey, Robert
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)Haselhurst, Alan
Colvin, MichaelHavers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Conway, DerekHawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Coombs, SimonHawksley, Warren
Hayes, J.Mates, Michael
Hayhoe, BarneyMaude, Hon Francis
Hayward, RobertMawhinney, Dr Brian
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidMaxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Heddle, JohnMayhew, Sir Patrick
Henderson, BarryMeadowcroft, Michael
Heseltine, Rt Hon MichaelMellor, David
Hickmet, RichardMerchant, Piers
Hicks, RobertMeyer, Sir Anthony
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Hill, JamesMills, lain (Meriden)
Hind, KennethMills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hirst, MichaelMiscampbell, Norman
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm) Mitchell, David (NW Hants)
Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling) Moate, Roger
Holt, RichardMonro, Sir Hector
Hordern, PeterMontgomery, Sir Fergus
Howard, MichaelMoore, John
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Howarth, Gerald (Cannock) Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford) Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Moynihan, Hon C.
Hubbard-Miles, PeterMurphy, Christopher
Hunt, David (Wirral) Neale, Gerrard
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Needham, Richard
Hunter, AndrewNelson, Anthony
Hurd, Rt Hon DouglasNeubert, Michael
Irving, CharlesNewton, Tony
Jackson, RobertNicholls, Patrick
Jenkin, Rt Hon PatrickNorris, Steven
Jessel, TobyOnslow, Cranley
Johnson Smith, Sir GeoffreyOppenheim, Phillip
Johnston, RussellOppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N) Osborn, Sir John
Jones, Robert (W Herts) Ottaway, Richard
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir KeithOwen, Rt Hon Dr David
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs ElainePage, Sir John (Harrow W)
Kennedy, CharlesPage, Richard (Herts SW)
Kershaw, Sir AnthonyPaisley, Rev Ian
Key, RobertParkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
King, Roger (B'ham N'field)Parris, Matthew
King, Rt Hon TomPatten, Christopher (Bath)
Kirkwood, ArchyPatten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn)
Knight, Gregory (Derby N)Pawsey, James
Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston) Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Knowles, MichaelPercival, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Knox, DavidPollock, Alexander
Latham, MichaelPorter, Barry
Lawler, GeoffreyPortillo, Michael
Lawrence, IvanPowell, William (Corby)
Lawson, Rt Hon NigelPowley, John
Lee, John (Pendle) Price, Sir David
Lennox-Boyd, Hon MarkPrior, Rt Hon James
Lester, JimProctor, K. Harvey
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)Pym, Rt Hon Francis
Lightbown, DavidRathbone, Tim
Lilley, PeterRees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover)
Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham) Renton, Tim
Lord, MichaelRhodes James, Robert
Loyden, EdwardRhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Luce, RichardRidley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Lyell, NicholasRidsdale, Sir Julian
McCrea, Rev WilliamRobinson, Mark (N'port W)
McCrindle, RobertRoe, Mrs Marion
McCurley, Mrs AnnaRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Macfarlane, NeilRossi, Sir Hugh
MacGregor, JohnRost, Peter
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Rowe, Andrew
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Maclean, David JohnRyder, Richard
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st) Sackville, Hon Thomas
McQuarrie, AlbertSainsbury, Hon Timothy
Madel, DavidSt. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
Major, JohnSayeed, Jonathan
Malins, HumfreyShaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Malone, GeraldShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Maples, JohnShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Marland, PaulShersby, Michael
Marlow, AntonySilvester, Fred
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Sims, Roger
Skeet, T. H. H.Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Viggers, Peter
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Waddington, David
Soames, Hon NicholasWakeham, Rt Hon John
Speed, KeithWaldegrave, Hon William
Speller, TonyWalden, George
Spence, JohnWalker, Bill (T'side N)
Spencer, DerekWalker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Wall, Sir Patrick
Squire, RobinWallace, James
Stanbrook, IvorWaller, Gary
Stanley, JohnWalters, Dennis
Stern, MichaelWard, John
Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Stevens, Martin (Fulham)Warren, Kenneth
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood) Watson, John
Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood) Watts, John
Stewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire) Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Stokes, JohnWells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Stradling Thomas, J. Wheeler, John
Sumberg, DavidWhitfield, John
Taylor, John (Solihull) Whitney, Raymond
Taylor, Teddy (S'end E) Wiggin, Jerry
Tebbit, Rt Hon NormanWilkinson, John
Terlezki, StefanWinterton, Mrs Ann
Thomas, Rt Hon PeterWinterton, Nicholas
Thompson, Donald (Calder V) Wolfson, Mark
Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N) Wood, Timothy
Thorne, Neil (Ilford S) Woodcock, Michael
Thornton, MalcolmWrigglesworth, Ian
Thurnham, PeterYeo, Tim
Townend, John (Bridlington) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath) Younger, Rt Hon George
Tracey, Richard
Trippier, DavidTellers for the Noes:
Trotter, NevilleMr. Robert Boscawen and
Twinn, Dr IanMr. Ian Lang.
van Straubenzee, Sir W.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put:—

The House proceeded to a Division—

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Stamford and Spalding

(seated and covered): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I must ask for your clarification in case there has been a mistake I find it quite extraordinary that the Opposition should vote against the Defence Estimates—they do not usually do so—because it means that they are voting against the defence of the realm. If they won, we should have no money to pay the Army, the Navy or the Air Force and—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I think that that is a speech that the hon. Gentleman might have made if he had been called. How people vote in this place is not a matter for me.

The House having divided: Ayes 353, Noes 168.

Division No. 238][10.15 pm
AYES
Adley, RobertBaker, Nicholas (N Dorset)
Aitken, JonathanBaldry, Tony
Alexander, RichardBanks, Robert (Harrogate)
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBatiste, Spencer
Amery, Rt Hon JulianBellingham, Henry
Amess, DavidBendall, Vivian
Ancram, MichaelBennett, Rt Hon Sir Frederic
Arnold, TomBenyon, William
Ashby, DavidBest, Keith
Aspinwall, JackBevan, David Gilroy
Atkins, Rt Hon Sir H. Biffen, Rt Hon John
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)Blackburn, John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Bonsor, Sir NicholasGow, Ian
Bottomley, PeterGower, Sir Raymond
Bottomley, Mrs VirginiaGrant, Sir Anthony
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Greenway, Harry
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Gregory, Conal
Boyson, Dr RhodesGriffiths, E. (B'y St Edm'ds)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGriffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Brandon-Bravo, MartinGrist, Ian
Bright, GrahamGround, Patrick
Brinton, TimGummer, John Selwyn
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Browne, JohnHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Bruinvels, PeterHampson, Dr Keith
Bryan, Sir PaulHanley, Jeremy
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Hannam, John
Buck, Sir AntonyHargreaves, Kenneth
Budgen, NickHarris, David
Burt, AlistairHarvey, Robert
Butcher, JohnHaselhurst, Alan
Butler, Hon AdamHavers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Butterfill, JohnHawkins, Sir Paul (SW N'folk)
Carlisle, John (N Luton) Hawksley, Warren
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hayes, J.
Carttiss, MichaelHayhoe, Barney
Cash, WilliamHayward, Robert
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHeathcoat-Amory, David
Chapman, SydneyHeddle, John
Chope, ChristopherHenderson, Barry
Churchill, W. S.Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Hickmet, Richard
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hicks, Robert
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clarke, Rt Hon K, (Rushcliffe) Hill, James
Colvin, MichaelHind, Kenneth
Conway, DerekHirst, Michael
Coombs, SimonHogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Cope, JohnHolland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Cormack, PatrickHolt, Richard
Corrie, JohnHordern, Peter
Couchman, JamesHoward, Michael
Cranborne, ViscountHowarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Crouch, DavidHowarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHowell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Dickens, GeoffreyHowell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Dorrell, StephenHubbard-Miles, Peter
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Hunt, David (Wirral)
Dover, DenHunt, John (Ravensbourne)
du Cann, Rt Hon Sir EdwardHunter, Andrew
Dunn, RobertHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Durant, TonyIrving, Charles
Dykes, HughJackson, Robert
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Eggar, TimJohnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Emery, Sir PeterJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Evennett, DavidJones, Robert (W Herts)
Eyre, Sir ReginaldJoseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Fairbairn, NicholasKellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Fallon, MichaelKershaw, Sir Anthony
Farr, Sir JohnKey, Robert
Favell, AnthonyKing, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyKing, Rt Hon Tom
Fletcher, AlexanderKnight, Gregory (Derby N)
Fookes, Miss JanetKnight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)
Forman, NigelKnowles, Michael
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Knox, David
Forth, EricLatham, Michael
Fowler, Rt Hon NormanLawler, Geoffrey
Fox, MarcusLawrence, Ivan
Franks, CecilLawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Freeman, RogerLee, John (Pendle)
Gale, RogerLennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Galley, RoyLester, Jim
Gardiner, George (Reigate)Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)
Gardner, Sir Edward (Fylde)Lightbown, David
Garel-Jones, TristanLilley, Peter
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir IanLloyd, Ian (Havant)
Glyn, Dr AlanLloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Goodhart, Sir PhilipLord, Michael
Goodlad, AlastairLuce, Richard
Gorst, JohnLyell, Nicholas
McCrea, Rev WilliamRossi, Sir Hugh
McCrindle, RobertRost, Peter
McCurley, Mrs AnnaRowe, Andrew
Macfarlane, NeilRumbold, Mrs Angela
MacGregor, JohnRyder, Richard
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire)Sackville, Hon Thomas
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute)Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Maclean, David JohnSt. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N.
McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)Sayeed, Jonathan
McQuarrie, AlbertShaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Madel, DavidShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Major, JohnShepherd, Richard (Aldhdge)
Malins, HumfreyShersby, Michael
Malone, GeraldSilvester, Fred
Maples, JohnSims, Roger
Marland, PaulSkeet, T. H. H.
Marlow, AntonySmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mates, MichaelSoames, Hon Nicholas
Maude, Hon FrancisSpeed, Keith
Mawhinney, Dr BrianSpeller, Tony
Maxwell-Hyslop, RobinSpence, John
Mayhew, Sir PatrickSpencer, Derek
Mellor, DavidSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Merchant, PiersSquire, Robin
Meyer, Sir AnthonyStanbrook, Ivor
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Stanley, John
Mills, lain (Meriden) Steen, Anthony
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Stern, Michael
Miscampbell, NormanStevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Mitchell, David (NW Hants)Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Moate, RogerStewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Monro, Sir HectorStewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Montgomery, Sir FergusStewart, Ian (N Hertf'dshire)
Moore, JohnStokes, John
Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)Stradling Thomas, J.
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)Sumberg, David
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)Taylor, John (Solihull)
Moynihan, Hon C. Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Murphy, ChristopherTebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Neale, GerrardTerlezki, Stefan
Needham, RichardThomas, Rt Hon Peter
Nelson, AnthonyThompson, Donald (Calder V)
Neubert, MichaelThompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Newton, TonyThorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Nicholls, PatrickThornton, Malcolm
Norris, StevenThurnham, Peter
Onslow, CranleyTownend, John (Bridlington)
Oppenheim, PhillipTownsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Tracey, Richard
Osborn, Sir JohnTrippier, David
Ottaway, RichardTrotter, Neville
Page, Sir John (Harrow W)Twinn, Dr Ian
Page, Richard (Herts SW)van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Paisley, Rev IanVaughan, Sir Gerard
Parkinson, Rt Hon CecilViggers, Peter
Parris, MatthewWaddington, David
Patten, Christopher (Bath)Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn) Waldegrave, Hon William
Pawsey, JamesWalden, George
Peacock, Mrs ElizabethWalker, Bill (T'sida N)
Percival, Rt Hon Sir IanWalker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Pollock, AlexanderWall, Sir Patrick
Porter, BarryWaller, Gary
Portillo, MichaelWalters, Dennis
Powell, William (Corby)Ward, John
Powley, JohnWardle, C. (Bexhill)
Price, Sir DavidWarren, Kenneth
Prior, Rt Hon JamesWatson, John
Proctor, K. HarveyWatts, John
Pym, Rt Hon FrancisWells, Bowen (Hertford)
Rathbone, TimWells, Sir John (Maidstone)
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover) Wheeler, John
Renton, TimWhitfield, John
Rhodes James, RobertWhitney, Raymond
Rhys Williams, Sir BrandonWiggin, Jerry
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasWilkinson, John
Ridsdale, Sir JulianWinterton, Mrs Ann
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Winterton, Nicholas
Roe, Mrs MarionWolfson, Mark
Wood, TimothyWoodcock, Michael
Tellers for the Ayes:Yeo, Tim
Mr. Robert Boscawen andYoung, Sir George (Acton)
Mr. Ian Lang. Younger, Rt Hon George
NOES
Alton, DavidGolding, John
Anderson, DonaldHamilton, James (M'well N)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterHamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Ashdown, PaddyHancock, Mr. Michael
Ashley, Rt Hon JackHardy, Peter
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham)Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Haynes, Frank
Barron, KevinHealey, Rt Hon Denis
Beckett, Mrs MargaretHeffer, Eric S.
Beith, A. J. Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Bell, StuartHolland, Stuart (Vauxhall)
Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)Home Robertson, John
Bermingham, GeraldHowell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Bidwell, SydneyHughes, Dr. Mark (Durham)
Blair, AnthonyHughes, Roy (Newport East)
Boyes, RolandHughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Bray, Dr JeremyJanner, Hon Greville
Brown, Gordon (D'f'mline E) John, Brynmor
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Johnston, Russell
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Kennedy, Charles
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Buchan, NormanKirkwood, Archy
Caborn, RichardLamond, James
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)Leadbitter, Ted
Campbell, IanLeighton, Ronald
Campbell-Savours, DaleLewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Canavan, DennisLewis, Terence (Worsley)
Cartwright, JohnLitherland, Robert
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Lloyd, Tony (Stratford)
Clarke, ThomasLofthouse, Geoffrey
Clay, RobertMcCartney, Hugh
Clwyd, Mrs AnnMcDonald, Dr Oonagh
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.)McKelvey, William
Cohen, HarryMacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Coleman, DonaldMcNamara, Kevin
Conlan, BernardMcTaggart, Robert
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) Madden, Max
Corbett, RobinMarek, Dr John
Corbyn, JeremyMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Cowans, HarryMartin, Michael
Cox, Thomas (Tooting) Maxton, John
Craigen, J. M. Meacher, Michael
Cunliffe, LawrenceMeadowcroft, Michael
Cunningham, Dr JohnMikardo, Ian
Dalyell, TarnMillan, Rt Hon Bruce
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Deakins, EricMorris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Dewar, DonaldMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Dixon, DonaldNellist, David
Dobson, FrankO'Brien, William
Dormand, JackO'Neill, Martin
Douglas, DickOrme, Rt Hon Stanley
Dubs, AlfredOwen, Rt Hon Dr David
Duffy, A. E. P. Park, George
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Parry, Robert
Eastham, KenPatchett, Terry
Edwards, Bob (W'h'mpt'n SE) Pike, Peter
Ewing, HarryPowell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Fatchett, DerekRandall, Stuart
Faulds, AndrewRedmond, M.
Fisher, MarkRees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Flannery, MartinRichardson, Ms Jo
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelRoberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Forrester, JohnRobinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Foster, DerekRoss, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Foulkes, GeorgeSedgemore, Brian
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Freud, ClementShort, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Garrett, W. E. Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
George, BruceSilkin, Rt Hon J.
Skinner, DennisWallace, James
Smith, C.(Isl'ton S & F'bury) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Snape, PeterWeetch, Ken
Soley, CliveWhite, James
Spearing, NigelWilliams, Rt Hon A.
Stewart, Rt Hon D.(W Isles)Winnick, David
Stott, RogerWoodall, Alec
Strang, GavinWrigglesworth, lan
Straw, JackYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen) Tellers for the Noes:
Tinn, JamesMr. John McWilliam and
Torney, TomMr. Allen McKay.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House approves the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1985, contained in Cmnd. 9430.