NATO (Missile Systems)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th February 1987.

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Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Opposition Whip (Commons) 12:00 am, 24th February 1987

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the nature and extent of his Department's participation in the study by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's military committee of NATO's requirement for anti-tactical ballistic missile systems.

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Procurement)

The United Kingdom is playing a full part in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's studies of the requirement for anti-tactical ballistic missile systems.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd Opposition Whip (Commons)

In the light of the Minister's response, and if we are playing a full part at the moment, what role will the United Kingdom have in the decision-making process about the star wars programme?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Procurement)

This is not connected with the star wars, or SDI, programmes. It is an anti-tactical ballistic missile system and we are discussing it with our NATO allies. As ballistic missile systems are so accurate now, it is worth having tactical ones. That is a threat to which we must react.

Photo of Mr John Wilkinson Mr John Wilkinson , Ruislip - Northwood

Will my hon. Friend do everything possible to ensure that these missiles for use against ballistic missile attacks are developed as a matter of urgency, because anti-tactical ballistic missile systems, especially if applied to point defence, can greatly alleviate the threat directly posed to these shores by SS21s, SS22s and SS23s?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Procurement)

I accept my hon. Friend's point. The United Kingdom is participating in the NATO studies of the threat posed by anti-tactical ballistic missiles and the need to defend ourselves against them.

Photo of Mr John Cartwright Mr John Cartwright , Woolwich

Will the Minister assure the House that the current interest in developing anti-tactical ballistic missile systems for Europe will not degenerate into some sort of stalking horse for the American SDI programme by enabling the Americans to try out in Europe technologies that would be banned by the ABM treaty?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Procurement)

We are not talking about related systems and I do not think that there is any danger of that happening.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth

Whatever he future of cruise missiles and SS20s, is it not as sure as night follows day that the anti-tactical ballistic missiles will still be required for NATO?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Procurement)

Yes, it all depends on how we perceive the accuracy of the missile systems. They are becoming much more accurate. If that is a problem that we must face, we must produce a system to counteract that.