I expect to meet the United States Secretary for Defence, along with other Alliance Defence Ministers, at the NATO defence planning committee in Brussels next month. We shall discuss a wide range of issues, including the sharing of roles, risks and responsibilities within the Alliance.
At that meeting, will my right hon. Friend draw attention to the fact that six members of NATO commit less than 3 per cent. of their GDP to defence spending, which puts increased pressure, particularly on Great Britain and America, to ensure that NATO's defences are steadfast and sufficient? Will my right hon. Friend also confirm that no Government in NATO have refused to pledge themselves to a proper policy of deterrence and the use of such a policy when circumstances require it? Therefore, the present British Government must continue in power to prevent any party from replacing that policy.
I agree with my hon. Friend's first point. It is very important that in an Alliance of equal, free, democratic nations all should pull their weight in the common defence. We certainly want to make sure that we play our full part and that we encourage all our allies to do the same.
Not only has the policy of deterrence been inordinately successful over many years now, but it is pointless to have a deterrent that one says in advance one is not prepared to use. The Government's policy is clear: the best way of preventing all war is nuclear deterrence.
When my right hon. Friend meets the United States Secretary of Defence, will he express to him the gratitude felt by most people in this country for the fact that the United States maintains such a substantial commitment for the defence of Europe and that 100,000 of "their boys" are in Europe largely in our defence, as well as theirs?
I agree. The American contribution to NATO's common defence efforts is notable and welcome. It is worth adding that it was put in train by the American Government precisely because they understand that the defence of the United States of America starts in Europe. That is why they put their weight into it.