Lords amendments agreed to.
(No. 5) Bill-- [Lords]
Bill (as amended in Committee) considered.
That Standing Order 205 (Notice of Third Reading) be suspended and that the Bill be now read the Third time.-- [The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]
Bill read the Third time and passed, with amendments.
[Lords] (By Order) Order for Third Reading read.
To be read the Third time tomorrow.
Order for consideration, as amended, read.
To be considered tomorrow.
(By Order) Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [13 May], That the Bill be now read a Second time.
Debate further adjourned till tomorrow.
That the Promoters of the King's Cross Railways Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon on order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ;
That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House ;
That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session ;
That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read) and, having been amended by the Committee in the present Session, shall be ordered to lie upon the Table ;
That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ;
That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.-- [The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]
Column 132Aire and Calder Navigation Bill
British Railways (No. --2 ) Bill
Cattewater Reclamation Bill
London Docklands Railway Bill
London Regional Transport (Penalty Fares) Bill
London Underground Bill
Midland Metro Bill
Midland Metro (No. --2 ) Bill
That so much of the Lords Message [24th July] as relates to the Aire and Calder Navigation Bill, the British Railways (No. 2) Bill, the Cattewater Reclamation Bill, the London Docklands Railway Bill, the London Regional Transport (Penalty Fares) Bill, the London Underground Bill, the Midland Metro Bill and the Midland Metro (No. 2) Bill be now considered ;
That the Promoters of the Aire and Calder Navigation Bill, the British Railways (No. 2) Bill, the Cattewater Reclamation Bill, the London Docklands Railway Bill, the London Regional Transport (Penalty Fares) Bill, the London Underground Bill, the Midland Metro Bill and the Midland Metro (No. 2) Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bills in the next Session of Parliament, provided that in the case of each Bill the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bills Office of their intention to suspend further proceedings not later than the day before the close of the present Session and that all fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ;
That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bills shall be presented to the House ;
That there shall be deposited with each Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session ;
That each Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bills Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first, second and third time and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read ; Ordered,
That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ;
That these Orders be Standing Order of the House.-- [The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]
Message to the Lords to acquaint them therewith.
2. Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the ratio of civil servants to active service personnel in 1966, 1976, 1986 and projected after "Options for Change" has been implemented.
The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Tom King) : The ratio of United Kingdom-based civil servants to active service personnel on 1 April each year was as follows : in 1966, there were 65 civilians for every 100 service personnel ; by 1976 it had risen to 72 ; in 1986 it had fallen
Column 133to 53 civilians for every 100 service personnel ; and the projected ratio after options in 1996 is down to 48 civilians.
Mr. Field : My right hon. Friend will appreciate the concerns of the older generation in this country, who saw the events of the 1930s unfold and develop into the second world war. Can he assure the House that the pen pushers and paper shufflers have not saved their jobs at the expense of the teeth arms? Does he agree that it is hypocritical for the Liberal Democrats to criticise our defence policy when their policy is for a 50 per cent. cut and they would never have built Trident submarines to act as the nation's nuclear deterrent?
Mr. King : I give my hon. Friend the first assurance that he sought. There will be a significant reduction, as there has been in the last 10 years ; there has been a 28 per cent. real reduction in civil servants and civilians working in the Ministry of Defence as against a 3 per cent. reduction in the armed services. There will be a further 20,000 reduction, to which I have referred, in the civilian sphere.
The lesson that we have learnt from the 1930s is that if we face conflict, it is our duty to ensure that our forces are fully equipped and that we do not repeat what happened in 1939, when we were so ill equipped. That is very much at the heart of our new proposals. As for the policy of the Liberal Democrats which I understand they are in the process of changing yet again--I believe that they are to have a review of their last review-- they would make a 50 per cent. reduction across the board.
Mr. Menzies Campbell : Would the Secretary of State care to say what percentage reduction will occur, if the Conservatives are still in power, in the year 2000, bearing in mind the existing defence budget?
Mr. King : We are making a reduction of 21 per cent. in numbers across the board and I have said that, looking to the next three years, we envisage a reduction of about 6 per cent. in real terms. I do not think I was misrepresenting the hon. and learned Gentleman, since I understand that he has owned up to recommending the policy of a 50 per cent. cut by the year 2000. I have no objection to people holding views genuinely, but they must come forward and state them honestly to the House--or are we stuck with a review of a review of a review?
Mr. Viggers : First, can my right hon. Friend confirm that those who leave the Ministry of Defence, be they civilians or service men, will be given retirement terms that fully reflect the loyalty of their service? Secondly, can he confirm that it will be a cardinal point of his defence review that the armed forces will, in the longer term, continue to provide a good career structure?
Mr. King : Very much so. We must make some painful decisions now on the latter point--which will involve some redundancies--precisely to ensure that, in the smaller structure, the promotion opportunities continue as they are at present. We must make certain that there is a proper structure at the different ranks and ages. As for my hon. Friend's first point, we are most anxious to ensure that we deal fairly with people who may have given long service, both in the armed forces and in the civilian sections of the
Column 134Ministry of Defence. My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces will have more to say about that later today.
Mr. Clelland : Is the Minister aware that the British public will find it appalling that, in one and a half hours of speeches made yesterday by the Secretary of State and his Under-Secretary of State, not a word was said about the employment implications and the implications for manufacturing industry of the current defence review? Have the Government a corporate approach to these matters? What is being done to help manufacturing industries to diversify and to avoid the huge losses in skills and livelihoods that now loom large?
Mr. Clark : I note that the hon. Gentleman has recycled a rather tired cliche of Labour party--it can hardly be called policy ; Labour's industrial policy seems to be as confused as its military policy. It was, in fact, in the hon. Gentleman's
constituency--although that was thanks more to my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter)--that the largest order for military equipment placed in the past two years was given to Vickers, for the Challenger 2 tank.
Mr. Brandon-Bravo : Is my right hon. Friend aware that Royal Ordnance, Nottingham, is the only full gun-making facility in the United Kingdom? Does my right hon. Friend agree that the skills in that unique facility and the product that is made there are essential to the long-term security of our defence procurement? Will he give me some assurance that the Government will recognise those skills and that jobs in that unique unit will be protected?
Mr. Clark : I certainly share my hon. Friend's high estimation of the skills in the Royal Ordnance factory. They are deeply rooted in tradition, as well as being thoroughly up to date in current technology. Two of the most recent products not only have considerable appeal for our own forces, but have considerable export potential : I refer, of course, to the improved high-penetration 105 mm gun and to the air-portable howitzer.
Mr. Battle : Given the momentous changes in the Soviet Union over the summer--in particular, the dismantling of the KGB--are there any plans for a reduction in the number of people employed in the Ministry of Defence security services ?
Mr. Clark : We are looking at every aspect of civilian employment in the Ministry of Defence, but, as the hon. Gentleman and the House know, it is never our practice to discuss numbers, costs and activities in the security field.
Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith : Is my right hon. Friend aware that his decision to discuss future research and development arrangements with the British defence industry has been widely welcomed ? Does he agree that, if
Column 135we are to have a better-equipped Army, it is essential that we keep alive our research and development in British industry, so that that vital equipment can be provided ?
Mr. Rogers : Is the Minister aware that the Scottish Office has set up a defence industries initiative to help communities and individuals who have been affected by reductions in the demand for defence products ? Has any additional money been made available for that initiative, have any Government Departments--even his own--been involved in it and does he wish to extend it to the rest of the United Kingdom in accordance with Labour party policy ?
Mr. Clark : This is a matter for the Scottish Office to answer. However, the hon. Gentleman has put his finger on the great defect in all Labour's pontifications on the subject. All these fine words are of absolutely no value unless they are quantified in terms of financial assistance. If they are to be so quantified, on whose budget does this financial assistance fall and how much is it to be ? As I say, that is a matter for the Scottish Office, but my understanding is that this is purely advisory.
Mr. Tom King : The Ministry of Defence is providing military and civilian experts and technical equipment to help the UN Special Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency to eliminate Iraqi weapons of mass destruction under Security Council resolution 687.
Mr. Butler : If Saddam Hussein is still building up his nuclear capacity, as President Bush contends, given what we now know about his nuclear capability does not it prove that to continue with the policy of sanctions alone would have been foolish indeed ?
Mr. King : There is significant evidence to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein has under-declared, misrepresented and concealed Iraq's ability in all areas--nuclear, chemical and biological. Particularly in the case of nuclear, we are now satisfied that he could have had a working explosive device by 1993. The scale of these developments and the determination of the Iraqis to seek to pursue them are now being apprehended by the positive approach that we have taken--the initiatives taken in the liberation of Kuwait and now in the pursuit of identifying and destroying these weapons of mass destruction. It is abundantly clear that the policy advice that we had from the Opposition--to carry on with sanctions for longer and longer-- would have been totally catastrophic.
Mr. Flynn : If the United Nations commission reports that British firms were involved in the build-up of Iraqi nuclear weapons, will the Secretary of State promise today that such information will be made public ?
Mr. King : There is an investigation into the full range. I referred the House to the fact that, as part of our determination, more than 2,000 documents have been recovered. The initiative of this Government, working with the United Nations, is now bringing that information to light. I have already said that the documents have revealed the extent to which the Iraqis went to disguise the true purpose of their purchases. The record that I was able to read out was evidence enough of the Government's determination to play their part.
Mr. Onslow : Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the British involvement extends to eliminating Iraq's chemical and biological capability as well as its nuclear capability? That is essential. Will my right hon. Friend also assure the House that the United Nations can rely upon the full commitment of every resource that we have to this end as soon as possible?
Mr. King : I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I can certainly give him that assurance. He is absolutely right to draw attention to the very substantial scale of Iraq's chemical capability. It is four times the initial declaration that it made. As for the biological capability, I informed the House yesterday that we have now established that Saddam Hussein has the ability to produce a very substantial amount of chemical warfare agents. We shall ensure that they are fully destroyed.
Mr. O'Neill : Does the Secretary of State accept that the whole House is glad that the United Nations initiative has been so successful and that the evidence is coming forward? Will he ensure that that information is made public when it is applicable to Britain? If appropriate, will he guarantee that, in conjunction with his ministerial colleagues elsewhere, the companies guilty of supplying the Iraqis with devices--either unwittingly or wittingly, because ignorance of the law is no excuse--will be brought to account, so we can show the rest of the world that we wish to have no dealings in this kind of illegal nuclear trade?
Mr. King : We take this matter very seriously. If the hon. Gentleman will reflect on the actions of, for instance, customs and excise and the activities at London airport on another occasion, he will know the steps to which we go to apprehend weapons that might have been illegally exported. If anybody is guilty of breaking any law, of course they will be brought to justice.
5. Mr. Trimble : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the implications of the "Options for Change" review on the number and deployment of Ulster Defence Regiment battalions.
The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. Archie Hamilton) : As part of his statement on the restructuring of the Army on 23 July my right hon. Friend announced that the Ulster Defence Regiment is to be integrated more fully
Column 137into the Army by merging with the Royal Irish Rangers to create a new regiment. This new regiment will comprise one battalion for worldwide service and up to seven battalions for service in Northern Ireland. It is intended that members of the UDR will transfer to the home service battalions and will undertake the range of duties currently discharged by the UDR.
Mr. Trimble : I thank the Minister for repeating that statement. As he knows, we are prepared to give the changes a fair wind, subject to finding a more suitable name for the new regiment. My question is directed towards the implications of the "Options for Change" review, particularly in light of the Secretary of State's reaffirmation yesterday that there will be a 24-month interval between unaccompanied tours. Is not it a simple fact that one cannot rotate up to 20 battalions a year through Northern Ireland and at the same time reduce to a total of 38 battalions? Does not that imply either a serious restructuring of the nature of regular Army deployment in Northern Ireland or some significant changes in the way in which the UDR will operate?
Mr. Hamilton : I thank the hon. Gentleman for giving the proposals a fair wind. We are grateful for the support from within the Province. The name of the regiment was discussed at some length and several other ideas were suggested. This was the agreed name reached by the colonels of the regiment and I think that we must leave that judgment with them. It is important to take into account the bipartisan nature of the new regiment, which will recruit from the Catholic as well as the Protestant community. That will be one of its strengths in the future.
The 24-month roulement was one of the considerations in the forefront of our minds when we decided on the number of infantry battalions. We are satisfied that we shall be able to do better than at present, which is less than 24 months. That was one of the main considerations that we took into account. In addition, the Royal Marines will be part of the roulement more regularly than at present.
Mr. Kilfedder : May I appeal to the Minister to think again about the name of the new regiment and to retain the distinguished name of the Ulster Defence Regiment in view of the dedication and expertise of the men and women who have faced terrorism for so many years and because of the supreme sacrifice made by many members of that distinguished regiment?
Mr. Hamilton : It was precisely because we owe so much to the Ulster Defence Regiment that we felt that it was important to integrate it more fully with the regular British Army, as we are doing in the proposals. I am afraid that serious thought has been given to the name and it is unlikely that we shall be changing it.
Mr. Townsend : Does my right hon. Friend recall that Iraq had to deploy a number of forces on the Kuwaiti coast to deal with the potential amphibious landing? Is not it essential that, when we are reducing the size of our standing Army in Germany, we should retain a strong amphibious capability and that early plans should be produced for the replacement of HMS Fearless and Intrepid?
Mr. Clark : I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. I value his support and I hope that we shall be referring to this later at greater length. My hon. Friend is right that an amphibious capability is inseparable from our approach which, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said, is smaller but better. The better means being more flexible, more responsive, harder hitting and faster reacting and an amphibious capability is an essential component of that.
Sir Patrick Duffy : It is one thing to acknowledge, as the Minister does, the need for flexibility and mobility and the implications that were made clear in yesterday's debate about force projection and even out-of- area, but we need the means of tranferring our armed forces into those areas. When will the Government's undertakings, which have been freely and helpfully given, be translated into budgetary commitments?
Mr. Clark : I shall have more to say about that later this afternoon, but my respect for the hon. Gentleman is such that I shall allow him to draw from me the assurance that I expect to award the project definition contract next month.
Mr. Trotter : Will my right hon. Friend confirm that Swan Hunter has spent considerable time and skill on considering what might be done to enhance our amphibious capability? Will he confirm that a helicopter- carrying aviation support ship could figure in those plans?
Mr. Clark : Yes, I gladly confirm that. I very much appreciate the skilful and inventive qualities of all our shipyards and the amount of time that they devote to this subject, which is extending and projecting our amphibious power.
Mr. Boyes : I welcome the Minister's statement that there will be a replacement for Intrepid and Fearless. Labour welcomes that and we hope that it can be kept to time and that there is not the same slippage as there has been with the type 23 frigates. Given yesterday's announcement that Endurance is being replaced by a boat that will be leased from Norway, will he give a categorical assurance that, first, the replacement will be a new-build boat rather than one leased from another country and, secondly, that it will be built in the United Kingdom and that tenders will not be invited from shipyards abroad?
Mr. Clark : I can certainly give the latter assurance. I shall deal with this later, but I cannot resist a dig at the hon. Gentleman, who referred last night to the need for stability in our warship ordering. I do not know whether he was articulating Labour party policy, but the stability that he envisages would hang pretty heavily over the dole queues in our shipbuilding cities.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Safety is a paramount consideration in the transport of nuclear weapons. It is ensured by rigorous training and operational procedures and by the robustness of the weapons, their containers and the road transport vehicles. We have an excellent safety record and we are determined to maintain it.