Orders of the Day — Merchant Fleet

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:35 pm on 9th July 1992.

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Photo of Mr Jonathan Aitken Mr Jonathan Aitken , South Thanet 9:35 pm, 9th July 1992

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's last point is that I can confirm that the Ministry of Defence police fraud squad is conducting investigations into the chartering of some shipping for the Ministry of Defence during the Gulf crisis. It is not our practice to comment on Ministry of Defence police investigations while they are under way, and the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that.

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's first point is that the Select Committee was factually correct, and in my factual analysis I confirmed that. There is a difference of opinion between the Government and the Select Committee in that we believe that Granby was a successful operation, that it offered charters to British shipping and that while those offers were perhaps not taken up as widely as we would have hoped, our job was to make sure that Operation Granby was a success. From the point of view of shipping, it was a success. We believe it indicated that a British defence movement on that scale is entitled to go and can successfully go out on to the open market to fulfil Britain's defence needs.