As reiterated most recently at Venice, we are firmly committed to the principle of freedom of navigation in the Gulf.
The Royal Navy has maintained a continuous presence in the Gulf since 1980. Since January about 120 merchant ships in transit through the Straits of Hormuz have been covered by ships of the Armilla patrol. Also since January three warships have been deployed in the region. The United States and the USSR are in the process of increasing their naval presence in the Gulf in the light of their commitment to protect Kuwaiti tankers. The French also patrol in the Gulf from time to time.
Has not the President of the United States drawn attention to the fact that the contribution of the Royal Navy is proportionally greater than that of any other power? Does not the Royal Navy deserve the thanks of the House for the job that it is doing, entirely without fuss?
While recognising the role played by the Royal Navy, may I ask whether the Minister agrees that the American attempt to exclude the Soviet Union from the Gulf—that is certainly how matters appear—is very dangerous? Will he urge the United States to work in co-operation with the Soviet Navy in that area? This is not merely a matter of American self-interest; it is in the interest of the whole world.