Is it not a fact that the Belgian Prime Minister, Mr. Wilfried Martens, has been pressing the Government and other NATO countries for earnest East-West discussions about reductions in nuclear short-range forces? Why are the Government continuing the arms race philosophy, being so hard-line and causing such disagreement nowadays in NATO, such that the British Government seem to be the only Government who want to perpetuate the arms race?
The hon. Gentleman is not fair to the Belgian Government because all along the Belgian Government have supported the main NATO strategy of nuclear deterrence and have strongly said that they do not favour a third zero of the shorter-range nuclear forces. They agree that weapons systems must be kept up to date. We must be fair to the Belgian Government.
I wish to make it quite clear that the British Government consider the policy of nuclear deterrence, in which the shorter-range nuclear weapons play an important part, as a key factor in preventing war. It is to prevent all war that all our policy is directed and it has been successful over the past 40 years.
Will my right hon. Friend take time during his next discussions with the Belgian Defence Minister to assure him that this Government will stand firmly behind the NATO strategy of nuclear deterrence, will ensure that proper conventional forces are supplied into the future for NATO's deployment and will ensure that we shall never let our allies down by backing out of NATO or even discussing such a possibility?
Yes, I agree with my hon. Friend and I re-affirm definitely that we in this Government entirely support the prevention of war by nuclear deterrence. In that we are supported absolutely unanimously by all our NATO allies of all political persuasions. All hon. Members, especially those in the Labour party, should reflect on that carefully at this time.
Does the right hon. Gentleman support President Bush in his new policy of re-integration towards the Soviet Union? Does he accept that that signifies that United States is moving towards the Kohl-Genscher view on the modernisation of nuclear weapons? Will he take steps to advise the Prime Minister to moderate her views before President Bush moderates them for her?
Would my right hon. Friend retain any credibility with his Belgian counterpart if he supported the modernisation of short-range nuclear weapons on the basis that he doubted whether they were any use at all, that he would never use them anyway, and that he would phase them out by the year 2000? Would not even the Belgians think that my right hon. Friend was guilty of fudge and mudge?
Including my Belgian colleague. The words that he subscribed to are:
For the foreseeable future our strategy of deterrence will continue to require both conventional and nuclear forces. At this meeting we again expressed our determination to ensure that NATO possesses diversified, survivable and operationally flexible nuclear forces across the entire spectrum. These forces must be kept up-to-date where necessary.
That is a complete answer to the hon. Gentleman and to his party while it is trying to work out its future policy.