Since 1979, the Ministry of Defence has ordered seven regiments of Challenger 1 main battle tanks; 13 battalions of Warrior; 10 battalions of Saxon and a range of other type of armoured artillery, air defence and support vehicles.
Further details of these and other orders are contained in table 5 and paragraphs 327 and 328 of the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989".
Does not the excellent record that my hon. Friend has just outlined demonstrate both the quantity and the quality of the equipment with which we provide the armoured corps within the Army? Does it not also underline the strength and commitment of the Government to the deterrent effect of our conventional forces?
Not many moments ago a Minister agreed at the Dispatch Box with the use of Ministry of Defence police to support the civil police with problems. Bearing in mind the Secretary of State's majority at the last election, would he press the button to use the vehicles mentioned in the question against British people if he thought that was necessary?
I must confess that I am not readily able to determine my ministerial responsibility for my right hon. Friend's majority, but I shall do all I can to increase it next time.
Does my hon. Friend agree that as 50 per cent. of 1 BR corps is supplied by the Territorial Army there is a strong case for ensuring that the Territorial Army battalions designated to NATO have armoured personnel carriers at their disposal? Will he acknowledge that as these vehicles are manufactured so ably in Shropshire—and the engines even more so in Shrewsbury —I have no great personal interest to declare?
As my hon. Friend is well aware from his knowledge and experience, these new armoured personnel carriers are a great deal more capable and provide a great deal more protection than the vehicles that they replace. As he also knows, the battalions of Saxon are largely going to equip units that did not have armoured protection before, so, again, we are considerably increasing our capability.