Mr Ian Stewart: Is the Financial Secretary able to say anything to those individuals who have cash flow difficulties as a result of not receiving repayment of national savings certificates?
Mr Ian Stewart: I have the privilege to represent the constituency of Hitchin, which includes St. Paul's Walden, where Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the Queen Mother, beloved of us all, spent much of the early part of her life. She has a special place in the affections of my constituents, through a lifetime of long service, not only the country in general but particularly to that part of it that she knew so...
Mr Ian Stewart: Since the purchase of the fishing tackle was made from non-public welfare funds the Ministry of Defence has no involvement with the transaction. I understand, however, that the military staff in the Falklands selected the range of firms they approached from their own knowledge and from specialist publications.
Mr Ian Stewart: The answer to that is in the reply that I have already given. The equipment was bought with welfare funds because that procedure could be followed more quickly in order to get fishing tackle to the troops in the Falklands for recreation purposes.
Mr Ian Stewart: As I have already explained, the funds with which this equipment was bought were provided out of welfare funds and are, therefore, not the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence. The welfare funds were at the discretion of the commander of the British Forces on the Falkland Islands, and if the hon. Gentleman wants more information I suggest he communicates with him.
Mr Ian Stewart: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the figures contained in volume 2 of the 1982 "Statement on the Defence Estimates"—table 2·7. More recent figures are being compiled for the 1983 White Paper but will not be available in advance of publication.
Mr Ian Stewart: I am aware of the factors to which the hon. Gentleman draws attention, but with all defence and para-military sales the Government take into account all relevant factors and deal with them case by case.
Mr Ian Stewart: My hon. Friend may have heard the answer that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor gave in the House last week when he pointed out that the terms of the financial support for Argentina would make it more difficult for it to devote resources to arms purchases. All such overseas sales are subject to our political, strategic and security interests.
Mr Ian Stewart: The hon. Gentleman must wait for the publication of the defence Estimates. These factors are all taken into account when dealing with individual countries. Our relations with those countries is a matter for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Mr Ian Stewart: We estimate that around 55 per cent. of the total cost of the programme will be spent in the United Kingdom.
Mr Ian Stewart: The higher percentage to which my hon. Friend refers relates, I believe, to the original provisions for Trident 1. The explanation of the changes will be found in defence open Government document 82/1 published last year regarding Trident 2. They relate to a number of factors, including improvement of the missile and warhead systems, submarines and various financial factors. With regard to...
Mr Ian Stewart: The Trident programme is not a gigantic waste of money, but is an important part of our national security, as a deterrent. I would point out that when the Trident system is introduced in this country it is expected to constitute a lower proportion of resources compared with the current Soviet and Warsaw pact resources of that kind than the Polaris force did in 1970.
Mr Ian Stewart: I have no change to make in the figures already given.
Mr Ian Stewart: I appreciate my hon. Friend's point on the concern expressed over the participation of United Kingdom suppliers in the Trident programme. Some of the comment in the press on the subject has been wide of the mark. My hon. Friend the Minister of State is in the United States at the moment and he will be raising a number of matters, including those of the type mentioned by my hon. Friend, during...
Mr Ian Stewart: I thought that the hon. Lady wanted to run down our conventional forces.
Mr Ian Stewart: The choice of the Trident weapon system as a strategic deterrent is important to our national security and will provide us with that capability more satisfactorily than would any other method.
Mr Ian Stewart: All Government-to-Government sales agreements and, where appropriate, major firm-to-Government contracts, contain sole-use clauses designed to ensure that British defence equipment is not transferred to third parties without the agreement of Her Majesty's Government.
Mr Ian Stewart: Circumstances in the Middle East are taken into account carefully, as they are in other parts of the world, before licences are given for the export of such equipment. The floating exhibition is visiting Qatar, Bahrain, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Jordan and Egypt. We shall closely follow our normal processes in those and other countries.
Mr Ian Stewart: I hope that the House will draw its own conclusions from what my hon. Friend has said.
Mr Ian Stewart: No, Sir, it does not. Our policy on the sale of arms to Iraq and Iran is one of neutrality and we shall supply no lethal equipment while the war continues.