European Security and Defence Policy

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 3rd November 2003.

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Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman Conservative, Chipping Barnet 2:30 pm, 3rd November 2003

If he will make a statement on the European security and defence policy.

Photo of Geoff Hoon Geoff Hoon Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence

On Monday 27 October, I set out the Government's detailed position on the European security and defence policy, when the House debated NATO and European defence policy.

For the European Union to play its full part in international affairs, it must have the capacity to support its common foreign and security policy objectives with an effective European security and defence policy, including the ability to undertake operations where NATO as a whole is not engaged. That involves European nations developing effective and deployable military capabilities both to undertake the full range of the Petersberg tasks and as a contribution to strengthening NATO.

Photo of Sir Sydney Chapman Sir Sydney Chapman Conservative, Chipping Barnet

Precisely—that is what the Secretary of State said in the debate last week. As it is now almost five years since the St. Malo declaration, which spawned the European security and defence policy, will the Secretary of State say which European country has increased its defence expenditure; or is it more likely that none has?

Photo of Geoff Hoon Geoff Hoon Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the United Kingdom has, and that is the responsibility that I have. I am grateful to him for indicating that the Government have been consistent on this issue, and it is right that I should take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. Jenkin on his consistency: he has been consistently opposed to any kind of European defence co-operation. Indeed, if I understand the position correctly, the price of success for Mr. Howard is that the hon. Gentleman will soon be looking for new responsibilities.