Hon. Adam Butler: I reject that absolutely. There have been suggestions that the consultation period will be neither genuine nor long enough. I have already assured the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) that the consultations will be genuine and that they will certainly be long enough in the light of the considerable discussion and debate about this matter that has taken place in the last year. I...
Hon. Adam Butler: It is clear that the future workload of the dockyards, and therefore employment in the dockyards, will depend on efficiency being improved and on that constructive attitude to which my hon. Friend refers. The reports that I have had in recent days of the attitude in the dockyards is, generally, of such a constructive attitude on the part of the men.
Hon. Adam Butler: The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) is perhaps more capable of making the point than I am. I was about to draw attention to the fact that the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) was not in his place. I am certain that the workers at the dockyards in Plymouth and the voters of the area will have noted that.
Hon. Adam Butler: I am persuaded that at least the dockyard workers in Rosyth are much happier at the prospect of the Conservatives continuing in office compared with the prospect under a Labour Government of the Trident programme being scratched.
Hon. Adam Butler: The United Kingdom Trident II force is planned to enter service in the mid-1990s.
Hon. Adam Butler: I give that assurance categorically. The Polaris boats will remain in service until such time as the Trident boats are able to maintain continuous patrol.
Hon. Adam Butler: I think that the hon. Gentleman has already made points in regard to that matter. Of course, it has to be properly attended to.
Hon. Adam Butler: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made it clear what the effect of a one cent change in the pound-dollar relationship would be on the overall cost of the programme, but I cannot give my hon. Friend the exact figures at the moment.
Hon. Adam Butler: The answer that I gave my hon. Friend was that the deterrent would not suffer ahead of the introduction of Trident. If I misheard my hon. Friend, I apologise to him. The plans for the surface fleet are well known. If the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends will have the patience to wait until tomorrow, more will be revealed on that matter.
Hon. Adam Butler: Following the formal period of consultation, the detailed comments received from Ministry of Defence trade unions, as well as from hon. Members on both sides of the House, local councils and others, are now being fully evaluated. I hope to be able to make an announcement on the final decision by the end of May or early June.
Hon. Adam Butler: I have always admired my hon. Friend for his wisdom and objectivity, but I know that he has an interest in this matter. He points to the good sense and economies that will derive from rationalisation. We are now having to make quite certain that the selection of Leicester in addition to Glasgow is right.
Hon. Adam Butler: What is happening is part of the transfer programme. Concentrating on Leicester as well as Glasgow involves rationalisation as well as dispersal. As part of the exercise some of the moves will be from locations outside London to Glasgow. That will be compensated for by movements from London.
Hon. Adam Butler: The cost of Trident I—the C4 system—as first announced in July 1980 was estimated at between £4·5 billion and £5 billion at July 1980 prices. In 1982, however, the Government decided to adopt instead the Trident II—the D5 system—the estimated cost of which at September 1981 prices and at an exchange rate of £1 to $1·78 was announced at £7·5 billion. Statistically this figure is...
Hon. Adam Butler: The Government want to ensure that the country's defence and peace are maintained. We are quite certain that it is right not only that we should have a nuclear deterrent but that we should have an independent nuclear deterrent. The Trident system is the most effective that we are likely to be able to command, and it can do the job effectively. As has been made clear on many occasions, as a...
Hon. Adam Butler: I can give that categorical assurance. We shall do so both through the provision of conventional defence and the nuclear deterrent.
Hon. Adam Butler: One can envisage certain situations in which Britain might need to make use of a nuclear deterrent.
Hon. Adam Butler: I am convinced that the absence of a deterrent would make war more likely, not less likely.
Hon. Adam Butler: I think that my hon. Friend is right. This has to be examined. But he must remember that the strategic defence initiative programme is in its infancy, the research is likely to take one or two decades at least, and in the meantime it will be necessary to continue with the deterrent strategy.
Hon. Adam Butler: The point that the hon. Gentleman makes is nonsense. In reply to his specific question, as I think he knows, the exchange rate which was used in my right hon. Friend's latest estimate was $1·38. At that time it was pooh-poohed because the exchange rate was standing at something like $1·10 to the pound. The hon. Gentleman and the House will have noticed that there has been considerable...
Hon. Adam Butler: The Government's policy in regard to surface ships has been made clear. It will be even clearer when the Statement on the Defence Estimates is published tomorrow. What the right hon. Gentleman must realise is that, thanks to this Government, expenditure on defence has increased by one fifth in real terms so that the total resources available to defence are one fifth greater than they were...