Military Security

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th November 1989.

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Photo of John Greenway John Greenway , Ryedale 12:00 am, 28th November 1989

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will undertake a review of security of all British military establishments and for all military personnel and their families; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

Security measures at all defence establishments are kept under constant scrutiny and review.

Photo of John Greenway John Greenway , Ryedale

Does my hon. Friend agree that at this welcome time of reduced tension in East-West relations the threat to our armed forces from terrorists sadly remains undiminished? In the light of recent horrific attacks on members of the armed services and their families, will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to undertake a further substantial review of security at our military bases? If there is to be any further redeployment of troops and personnel, does he agree with me that it would be better to consider the needs of each station commander in terms of manpower and resources to see what can be done to improve security and protection at each of our bases?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

I can reassure my hon. Friend that all security measures are kept constantly under review. Much more money is being spent on different security measures, although I cannot go into them here. Commanding officers are in close contact with us in that respect.

Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South

I hope that the Minister will accept that we all condemn terrorist action against service men and their families. As that threat will continue, will the Minister ensure that service men and their immediate families are constantly vigilant against such threats? As important, will he ensure that the armed forces are responsible for the security of their bases?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

We are always trying to ensure that service men and their families are constantly vigilant. We hope that that vigilance will extend outside the bases and camps to members of the local civilian population as they, too, have a great role to play in improving security. I am at odds with the hon. Gentleman on the question of service men doing all their own guarding. I believe that there is a role for civilian guards and security firms although they must obviously reach the high standards that we set for them.

Photo of Mr David Shaw Mr David Shaw , Dover

Does my hon. Friend agree that a balance should be struck between security needs and the friendships that are often established between military personnel and the community? In my constituency there was a terrible IRA outrage at the Royal Marines base earlier this year. Relationships between the Royal Marines and people in the community are so strong that the people of Deal would like that relationship to continue. Will my hon. Friend do all in his power to ensure that the Royal Marines base in Deal remains there for the foreseeable future?

Photo of Sir Archie Hamilton Sir Archie Hamilton The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

I certainly hear what my hon. Friend says. His comments were brought home sharply to me when I went to the memorial service for the marines at Canterbury cathedral at which many civilians from Deal made the point forcefully to me. I shall certainly bear it in mind.