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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:14 pm on 16th April 1986.

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Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth 7:14 pm, 16th April 1986

I suspect that that was not the first time that the hon. Member for Davyhulme (Mr. Churchill) has claimed after the event the wisdom that he scarcely displayed before it. We are entitled to take seriously an event which could shift the political centre of gravity, at least in Britain, if not, regrettably, in the United States of America. The traditional assumption, which has often been endorsed by Conservative Members, that the country's foreign and defence policies are safest in the hands of the Conservative party may have been brought into greater question than we have seen for almost a generation.

The fact remains that there is a critical situation in which we should question the wisdom of Her Majesty's Government, and particularly the Prime Minister, as well as of the President of the United States of America, who seems to be an old man in far too great a hurry.

Obviously there will be a series of post-mortems. One will take place next week, when those of us who are members of the Council of Europe delegation will debate an emergency motion on the matter. Regrettably, Opposition Members will not be able to offer any comfort to the Conservative Members of the delegation. We will share the view that seems to be held by every other member state of the Community and by all other 20 member states of the Council of Europe.

It did little good for Conservative Members to snigger at my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition when he espoused the views endorsed by the vast majority of the political parties in the civilised world, except the Conservative party. The display this afternoon was utterly regrettable. The hon. Member who at a recent Assembly meeting said that we should not attack our own country should have seen cause for my hon. Friends to take a firm view in support of peace, of principle, and of the sanity which seems to have escaped the right hon. Lady in her foolish decision.