Armoured Vehicles

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th May 1989.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell , Gedling 12:00 am, 9th May 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what armoured vehicles have been ordered by his Department for the Army since 1979.

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

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".

Photo of Andrew Mitchell Andrew Mitchell , Gedling

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?

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

I agree entirely. Of course, it also highlights the importance of keeping weapons systems up to date, whether conventional or nuclear.

Photo of Mr Frank Haynes Mr Frank Haynes , Ashfield

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?

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

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.

The Ministry of Defence police, whose operational tasks are under the control of their chief constable, would come to the aid of a Home Office force only at the request of its chief constable.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The main question is about armoured vehicles.

Photo of Derek Conway Derek Conway , Shrewsbury and Atcham

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?

Photo of Hon. Tim Sainsbury Hon. Tim Sainsbury , Hove

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.