Members present:
              Mr Bruce George, in the Chair
              Mr Julian Brazier
              Mr Harry Cohen
              Mr Mike Hancock
              Mr Stephen Hepburn
              Mr Jimmy Hood
              Dr Julian Lewis
              Laura Moffatt
              Mr Peter Viggers
                 THE RT HON GEOFFREY HOON MP (Secretary of State for Defence) and MR
           RICHARD HATFIELD, Policy Director, Ministry of Defence, examined.
        1.    Welcome, Secretary of State.  I thought initially of giving you
  an opportunity of making a statement on foot-and-mouth disease in the north
  of England, but perhaps I shall refrain from asking, unless you wish to tell
  us something.
        (Mr Hoon)   Could I simply apologise to you and other members of the
  Committee for my late arrival.  I am sure that if members of the Committee do
  want to ask about the situation in Cumbria I could give them a first-hand
  report, but no doubt you would prefer to stick to the said subject.
        2.    That is a matter of debate.  I am sure somebody will frame a
  question along the lines of whether the European Army can come to our
  assistance in putting down a hundred thousand sheep.
        (Mr Hoon)   I am delighted to be able to report that the British Army do
  not need any assistance.
        3.    Thank you very much.  We took evidence from you on 16 February
  last year, Secretary of State, on the changes taking place in the rapidly
  developing area of European security and defence.  We published our report on
  the topic in May last year.  That report focused on two key issues of what has
  come to be known as the European Security and Defence Policy, ESDP.  The first
  was the "Helsinki Headline Goal" of a European Rapid Reaction Force to be
  ready for deployment by the end of 2002.  The second was the transfer of
  functions for the political and strategic direction of this proposed force
  from the WEU to the EU.  In the past 12 months these areas have developed
  rapidly - we have had two European Councils and the ERRF Capabilities
  Commitment Conference, and the EU's High Representative for the CFSP, Mr
  Solana, has been building the institutional structures within the EU.  Our
  report of last year was greeted with a deafening silence.  Since then,
  however, the topic has become one of intense party-political controversy.  No
  doubt strong views on each side on the principle of the policy are held by
  individual members of this Committee, but we have not assembled here today to
  debate on party-political lines - that is the job of the Chamber, not the
  Select Committees.  Without either implicitly endorsing or rejecting the
  principle of the ESDP, I hope we can today examine the practicalities of its
  implementation so that our evidence can be used to make the party-political
  debate, which can quite rightly and properly be pursued elsewhere, better
  informed.  Is there anything you would like to say by way of introduction?
        (Mr Hoon)   I look forward to the debate that follows from your
        4.    We all do but, with the support of the Committee, we will be
  drawing stumps in an hour and a half, for which I am very grateful to the
  Committee.  I am sure you will be as well.  Firstly, are we on target to
  achieve the Helsinki Headline Goal in full by the end of next year?
        (Mr Hoon)   The Helsinki Headline Goal is not expressed as being to be
  achieved by the end of next year.  What we are looking for is the year 2003
  as being the timetable and whilst there is still a good deal of work to be
  done I am confident that we will be able to achieve that in the timescale
        5.    Will the others be able to do so as well, do you think?
        (Mr Hoon)   Yes, I think that there is a very strong commitment to
  achieving this "tightly defined target", which is how I would describe it. 
  There are certain areas where clearly we do need to do some further work, but
  nevertheless I think we have made a very good start and we need to maintain
  the momentum.  I might mention for the benefit of the Committee that we have,
  together with France, proposed that there should be a second Capabilities
  Conference and that that should take place probably towards the end of this
  year specifically to identify those areas of shortfall that we are working on,
  those areas where, after the first Capabilities Conference, we judged that
  there is more still to be done and to find ways in which we can rectify those
  gaps.  That seems to me to be a very useful step forward.  Obviously it will
  require perhaps a rather more difficult process than the one that has been
  undertaken so far in the sense that so far we have been able to identify
  resources that we readily have available.  It is rather more difficult to
  identify which countries will be able to fill the shortfall gaps and therefore
  it is a slightly more difficult process that we have set in train but
  nevertheless an extremely important and valuable one because again it does
  demonstrate our commitment to improving capabilities which is what we judge
  the European defence is all about.
        6.    Thank you for that.  The only reason I said at the end of 2002
  was that the Headline Goals were for the beginning of 2003 so there is not
  much difference between the two.
        (Mr Hoon)   No, there is not.  I am perfectly happy to have this checked
  but 2003 is the date and my assumption was always that it was by the end of
  2003 rather than by the beginning.
        Chairman:   We will have to have a little bet on it afterwards.
                              Mr Viggers
        7.    At the Conference in November 2000, the Capabilities Commitment
  Conference, the so-called Force Catalogue was drawn up listing the commitments
  made by Member States to achieving the Helsinki goals.  The Force Catalogue
  revealed a number of serious deficiencies.  I wonder if you would let us know
  what you think are the most glaring deficiencies and what progress is being
  made to put them right.
        (Mr Hoon)   As the Committee will be aware, the biggest single weakness
  is in the area of heavy lift capability.  That should not be at all surprising
  to the Committee because that of course is an area of weakness that this
  country identified in the process leading to the Strategic Defence Review. 
  It is an area where Kosovo in particular demonstrated a degree of weakness in
  that we did not have available to us the ability to move forces and equipment
  quickly into theatres and areas of conflict.  That of course is why we have
  undertaken to purchase, to lease, six ro-ro ferries as well as the very
  substantial commitment to aircraft that we have made: 25 A400Ms and the
  leasing of four C17s, the first of which will become available in May of this
  year.  I was in the United States last week and had the opportunity of seeing
  one of these aircraft, which will be a very considerable addition to the RAF's
  capability.  I did not deal with the second part of your question.  It is
  still a little early to say who will be doing what.  Obviously we will be
  making this contribution, as will other countries, in relation to strategic
  air lift because, as you will be aware, a number of other countries have also
  signed up for the A400M.  That will be a slightly longer term development of
  what we need.  Part of the work that we are currently engaged on, leading to
  the second Capabilities Conference, is to examine the areas of weakness and
  find ways in which to remedy them.  I am not avoiding your question.  It is
  just that we still have the work to do leading to the second Capabilities
  Conference.  I suspect even then we will not be able to tick all the boxes
  because some of these, obviously, like new aircraft, are longer term issues.
        8.    Following through the issue of new aircraft, one of the biggest
  projects of all of course is the joint strike fighter which will serve in our
  aircraft carriers.  How closely are we integrated with the United States in
  developing the joint strike fighter?
        (Mr Hoon)   It has not quite been developed in the way that you suggest. 
  Again in the United States last week I was privileged to be able to see one
  of the prototypes and the process being undertaken is a competitive one
  between two consortia that have funded so far the development of the
  prototypes and will submit those for examination by both the United States
  Government and the British Government.  We have committed ourselves to an
  eight per cent share in the aircraft although we believe that as a result of
  that commitment, where we will be a full partner in the project, the
  opportunities available for British industry will almost certainly produce
  more than eight per cent of the share of the work that results.  This is a
  very competitive process and when the time comes for making the selection as
  between the two quite different aircraft, which is going to be quite an
  interesting process to determine how choices are made between the two
  solutions to the problem that have been advanced by the two different
  industrial consortia, obviously we will be fully involved in that.
        9.    So we are closely involved with the Americans; we will
  effectively be developing with them, as a minority partner but with them, a
  joint fighter which will obviously have a significance in terms of having
  carriers which are similar to theirs.
        (Mr Hoon)   The reason it is described as joint, as I am sure you are
  aware, is that the idea is to produce an aircraft that can fulfil a number of
  different roles for different services in the United States as well as for us. 
  There will be different variants of the aircraft according to the function
  that is required.  Essentially the framework within which those variations sit
  will be common.
        10.      So we are working in harmony with our American partners to
  develop this aircraft?
        (Mr Hoon)   What I am trying to get across is that this is very much at
  the moment an industrial process.  Obviously there is close consultation with
  the Department of Defence and with the Ministry of Defence here.  Indeed, I
  saw the aircraft at a US AF air base.  Certainly we are heavily engaged but
  until the point comes where there is what the Americans call a down selection,
  where they actually choose which aircraft to take forward, much of the
  financial responsibility at any rate is placed firmly on the contractors.
        11.      In evidence given to us the aircraft carrier itself is a tin box
  on which you load the aeroplane.  The aeroplane is the key to the development.
        (Mr Hoon)   It is, but there are still some decisions to be taken as to
  the precise variant that we might decide upon and consequential decisions for
  the design of the aircraft carrier.
        12.      Now tell us about the Anglo-French Carrier Force.
        (Mr Hoon)   There are discussions under way between us and France about
  co-operation as far as our carriers are concerned but there are no formal
  proposals that I am aware of to develop a joint force along the lines that
  your question might suggest.
        13.      I quote the Commander-in-Chief of the French Navy surface fleet,
  Admiral Henri-Francois Pile.  He said:  "We are having tightly focused
  discussions with the Royal Navy".  "Tres ‚troit" was the expression he used. 
  The French Naval Attach‚ said during a broadcast on 3 November on the state
  programme:  "We are having discussions with the British as to whether we can
  produce a common aircraft programme or a programme with the majority of the
  systems and armaments in common".
        (Mr Hoon)   There are a variety of different discussions that we are
  having with partners and allies and I have mentioned them previously to this
  Committee.  I am very committed to working with our partners and allies to
  develop a common approach.  I suspect that the quotation that you have cited
  rather overstates the degree of development that has so far been achieved. 
  We are certainly having discussions and we are having discussions with quite
  a considerable number of partners in order to improve the way in which we work
  together.  As I have mentioned to the Committee on a previous occasion, in the
  area of naval co-operation the Memorandum of Understanding goes back to 1996
  and there is a good deal of work done in common but as far as the development
  of any specific ship in common is concerned, that is not something which is
  currently planned.
        14.      I just wonder how Captain Jean Moulou, the French Naval Attach‚,
  got the impression that for him he was aiming for "a completely joint
  investment.  For me ... Yes", he said.  Who is stringing whom along?
        (Mr Hoon)   I am not aware of any plans for there to be developed a joint
  aircraft carrier.  I am sure that there have been from time to time
  conversations and discussions about that and it is clearly in the fullness of
  time a possible option, but it is not something that we are working on as of
        Chairman:   Perhaps, as Sir Robert Walmsley is in the next room, I can
  create a precedent by summoning him to answer that question.
                              Mr Viggers
        15.      I must say that the Navy traditionally used to have a girl in
  every port but it does sound to me as if the Government may possibly on this
  occasion be doing something it has been accused of in the past, which is
  saying different things to different people.  Let us move on.  All of the
  capabilities needed to enhance the European Defence Capacity are expensive and
  require a considerable investment on the part of European states.  What is the
  United Kingdom doing?  You mentioned air lift.  Can you expand a little on
  what the United Kingdom is doing to address these deficiencies which have been
  identified in addition to the air lift which you mentioned earlier?
        (Mr Hoon)   I gave you an example of what we identified in the Strategic
  Defence Review as being a particular deficiency in the United Kingdom.  There
  is also, as I indicated earlier, a considerable amount of work going on to
  both identify the shortfalls following on from the Capabilities Conference
  last November and to work out ways in which each of the countries identifies
  potential solutions.  I have indicated one area where the United Kingdom will
  make a contribution, which is in relation to heavy lift.  It is too early to
  say yet who will be making other contributions because frankly we will not be
  able to rectify all of the shortfalls ourselves.  Obviously this is a combined
  effort and we are still discussing with our partners and allies who will do
  what and by when.
        (Mr Hatfield)  Perhaps I can give a couple of details on where we are in
  looking at that.  One of the other areas identified as a specific shortfall,
  and in fact it is a familiar one from Nato as well, is the Suppression of
  Enemy Air Defence, and we are talking to the Germans and Italians in
  particular about the possibility of co-operation there.  Another area where
  we are talking about the co-operation with, in this case, particularly the
  French, is Combat Search and Rescue.  It is too early to say whether this will
  lead to a specific proposal but both of those are areas we are investigating. 
  We are working with a Nordic group of countries on what is essentially their
  plan to produce a single coherent Nordic brigade which could be deployed by
  2003 and where we could provide some assistance in fielding that which
  possibly would fit into a wider British structure.
        16.      Are there some areas where it has been decided that it will be
  appropriate for one nation to take the lead and the initiative and seek to
  provide the filling of the gap in the European Defence Capability?
        (Mr Hoon)   Not yet, no, because those sorts of discussions are still
  under way.  We are still assessing the gaps and who might be in a position to
  fill them.  I suspect, given that in a sense the Headline Goal is a European
  version of much of what we set out in our Strategic Defence Review in the
  sense that the emphasis is very much on moving forces quickly into a crisis,
  that many of the conclusions that we identified as being deficiencies in our
  own capability will be found ultimately to be common deficiencies across
  Europe.  I think it is fair to say that we probably are more advanced in
  addressing those issues as a result of the timeliness of the Strategic Defence
  Review than are a number of our continental partners and therefore we are
  probably more advanced in addressing some of the solutions as well.
        17.      We are told that in relation to the numbers sometimes used in
  international gatherings, particularly of the Nato Parliamentary Assembly, if
  you take the American effort as a hundred then the European effort in defence
  is about 60 but the effect is about 15.
        (Mr Hoon)   I would not disagree with that assessment.  I would not
  necessarily agree with the precise statistics but I think that the order of
  magnitude of the discrepancy is probably about right.  Specifically what the
  Headline Goal is designed to deal with is the gap if you like between the 15
  and the 60 because what has happened there over far too many years of course
  was that European nations simply duplicated their capabilities and the
  spending that they make is not cumulative.  What the Headline Goal is trying
  to develop is a process by which defence spending in Europe is cumulative
  rather than duplicating existing capabilities.
        18.      But dealing with the 60, with the gross European effort, I
  believe that something like six of the 19 Nato countries are expanding their
  defence expenditure and these tend to be the rather smaller countries and the
  increases are small.  What is your message to your Nato colleagues in terms
  of their defence expenditure?
        (Mr Hoon)   Those figures I think came out of Nato and they were a little
  disappointing, certainly as far as the United Kingdom was concerned, because
  they did not indicate that the United Kingdom was increasing its defence
  expenditure which is quite wrong.  We will have an extra ś1,250 million to
  spend on defence in the course of the three years from the Defence Spending
  Review.  Therefore your six is not a strictly accurate figure.  The further
  qualification that you need to reflect upon is that not all countries allocate
  defence expenditure in quite the same way that we do.  For example, Germany
  does not allocate significant defence procurement spending in with its defence
  budget.  Therefore, when they come, for example, as they will, to allocate the
  money for A400M, that will only retrospectively appear as allocated to
  defence.  A number of countries adopt a similar approach.  Some of those
  figures do need treating with a certain amount of caution.  Nevertheless I
  agree with the sentiment you have expressed, which is that not only do we want
  to see European nations spending their money on defence in a different and
  more effective way, which is what the Headline Goal is about, but we also want
  to see them spending more.
                              Mr Hancock
        19.      How are you going to exercise influence to persuade them to
  change their role from going to try and scatter gun it down to a more specific
  task force in these countries?
        (Mr Hoon)   That is precisely the purpose of the Headline Goal.  The
  Headline Goal is very specific.  It sets out a particular output.  Instead of
  looking at the problem in terms of inputs, that is, what countries spend on
  defence, which we cannot guarantee will produce what we want at the end of the
  day, by concentrating on outputs, on what we actually want to deliver, we will
  use the political process that the European Union affords to ensure that at
  the end of the process we have what was set out in the Headline Goal.  How we
  get there I accept is still a subject of debate but that is what we are
  working on.  The Capabilities Conference in Brussels was a very useful
  beginning.  What we need to do now is to build on that and go through the
  process that I have previously described.
        20.      Do you sense that there is a willingness then on the part of
  those countries to change so dramatically what they might have been doing in
  the past?  We met the Defence Committee for example from Holland who were here
  recently.  They were not looking to be driven by an EU directive telling them
  they had to specialise.  They were very much of the opinion that they were
  doing the right thing now.
        (Mr Hoon)   All I can say to you in relation to the Netherlands is that
  the Government has specifically put aside a fund for their contribution to the
  Headline Goal, so they have actually recognised the importance of the Headline
  Goal for the Government.  I know not what members of the Committee were
  saying, but the Government has actually committed itself not only to put money
  on one side out of its defence budget for this purpose but also to say, and
  I have had this in conversation a number of times with the Dutch Defence
  Minister, that whenever a procurement arises they will test the importance of
  that procurement against the Headline Goal.  They will actually say, "What
  contribution will this particular piece of equipment make to our ability to
  satisfy the Headline Goal?", which is a fairly forward-leading view in
  relation to satisfying the goal and I think does demonstrate the commitment
  that the European countries have to this process.
                              Mr Hepburn
        21.      How is the Working Group on Capabilities established by the EU
  and Nato working out in practice?
        (Mr Hatfield)  The Committee has been meeting two or three times already
  this year.  It is only meant to be a temporary group until we get on to more
  permanent arrangements, but I suspect it will in fact be replaced by a
  somewhat similar group on a permanent basis to make the big Nato plan system
  with the EU Headline Goal process so that we make sure that the development
  for capabilities in the two organisations marches together, particularly of
  course for the 11 countries who are members of both organisations.  At the
  moment it has only had two or three meetings.  One of its early meetings will
  be about the linkage of the two planning systems in the way I have just
                              Mr Brazier
        22.      Secretary of State, can I ask you how confident you are that the
  Prime Minister in his recent meetings in Washington and Paris has been able
  to re-affirm the United Kingdom influence and keep it focused on practical
  capability issues rather than allowing it to eliminate more fundamental
  differences in perception, particularly differences in perception between the
  United Kingdom and France on the future of transatlantic security?  To give
  an example, - you look puzzled - yesterday's statements by General Kelche, the
  French Chief of Defence Staff, on which you must have been briefed, I will
  choose one at random (I have a variety): there is no question of "a right of
  first refusal", "If the EU works properly, it will start working on crises at
  a very early stage ... Nato has nothing to do with this.  At a certain stage
  the European would decide to conduct a military operation.  Either the
  Americans would come, or not."  This will not be playing well in Washington.
        (Mr Hoon)   I think we will give General Kelche an opportunity, which he
  assures me he is going to take, to make clear the way in which The Daily
  Telegraph has sought to seriously misrepresent and distort his remarks.  I
  understand that he will be issuing a fairly vigorous rebuttal of the way in
  which The Daily Telegraph has chosen selectively to highlight his remarks, and
  indeed will be indicating the ways in which they have very badly
  misrepresented his view.
        23.      If it is only one officer and one newspaper perhaps you would
  like to comment then on the decision by the EU to elect on a very close vote
  (by eight to seven) a Finn as the first Chief of Staff of this organisation. 
  Do you think that this will be helpful for transatlantic relations, bearing
  in mind that the Finn made it clear on his appointment in the last 24 hours
  that joining Nato is not an option they are taking seriously?
        (Mr Hoon)   I welcome the decision.  The General is a very talented man
  with experience both in the European Union but also, crucially, within Nato
  and I think he will be an ideal candidate to ensure the transparency and co-
  operation between Nato and the EU that was set out in the Nice Agreement.  I
  am sure that your remarks are not in any way designed to be disparaging to the
  Finish military who have a very long and distinguished tradition of military
  activity and are extremely effective and have some very capable armed forces.
        24.      We saw the Finnish military briefly in Kosovo and they are very
  good.  There is nothing disparaging about that.  My concern is that their
  political masters are not signed up to Nato at a time when you as a Government
  (and in this respect the Opposition agree with you) feel very strongly that
  we should keep that links.  You want to wholly dissociate yourself then in
  what you have just said from the comments the Italians made when the results
  come out, do you?  Obviously saying Italy have been betrayed may have been a 
  little bit over the top, but they then go on to observe the fact that the Nato
  countries within the EU voted overwhelmingly for the Italian candidate and it
  seems to be the neutral countries within the EU and the French who carried the
  sway, forming five of the eight votes on the Finnish side.  That does not
  worry you at all?
        (Mr Hoon)   You should not believe all that you read in the newspapers.
        (Mr Hatfield)  I think we should perhaps point out that the votes were
  cast by secret ballot.
        (Mr Hoon)   And Italian newspapers are no more reliable on this than are
  British ones, I am afraid.
        Mr Brazier: So it is not just The Daily Telegraph.
                              Mr Hancock
        25.      If I could pursue what you said earlier a little more deeply,
  what progress has been made on the Defence Capability Initiatives by the
  United Kingdom and our European allies?  Is it in itself satisfactory to where
  we have got to?  And as regards progress, say, 12 months from now, where do
  you see that?  Maybe this is a question for Mr Hatfield and for you to wrap
  it up, Secretary of State.
        (Mr Hoon)   As you will be aware, the United Kingdom has been and
  continues to be a very strong supporter of the DCI.  We think they are making
  good progress.  We have plans to implement fully some 58 per cent of the DCI
  related force goals compared to around 44 per cent for the alliance as a
  whole.  We are making progress.  Clearly there is more to be done.  There is
  a wide range of things that have to be addressed as far as the DCI is
  concerned, but I think it is right that we recognise the progress that we as
  a country have made, but also the progress overall that is being made within
  Nato.  There is certainly more that could be done but one of the points to
  make of course is that the progress that we can make on implementing the
  Headline Goal will also feed into the progress that has been made on DCI and
  it is important that those two should operate in harmony and that there should
  be absolute coherence between the two processes and that is something that we
  have set out very vigorously.
        26.      Your planning for this must have recognised a speedier process
  than what has happened to date surely?
        (Mr Hoon)   Earlier on Mr Viggers indicated by implication the history of
  this kind of process.  The history, sadly, sometimes has been that countries
  sign up to the need for improvements in military capability but perhaps are
  not always willing to see through the sometimes difficult decision that that
  involves.  Where I think the Headline Goal can be very useful is that instead
  of being somewhat abstract, which sometimes in the past these kinds of
  commitments have been, it is very specific, focusing on a particular
  capability by a certain time.  In those circumstances there will be, I am sure
  you can realise, a very great deal of political pressure on all those who have
  signed up to this to deliver and that is obviously part of the pressure that
  we have to keep bringing to bear to make sure that we are in a position
  collectively to satisfy the Headline Goal by the due day.
        27.      It has been indicated to us and by you on more than one occasion
  that there are five key areas for the DCI.  Where has progress been best and
  where has progress been worst in those five key areas?  Who is responsible for
  the foot-dragging in certain areas?
        (Mr Hatfield)  It is not really a question of foot-dragging.  It is a
  question really of what is easy to achieve.  Nato's DCI has a huge range of
  measures which run from minor improvements in the logistic organisation to
  major procurements.  The easy quick ones have largely been done.  I think that
  although everybody would like it to be faster, Nato's general view is that it
  is going quite well.  The Headline Goal started later.  It has only been in
  existence for a year.  It is attempting to hit a narrower but very important
  target, consistent with DCI, and I would argue that progress so far has been
  pretty good by comparison with any previous initiative of this sort.  Yes, the
  jury is still out because we have not yet reached the final deadline, but I
  would say that progress is good rather than bad.
        28.      Where does some more effort need to be made?  What are the areas
  where you believe more needs to be done quickly?
        (Mr Hoon)   Some of the obvious shortfalls in DCI are similar to the ones
  that we have discussed already.  Heavy lift is one of the examples, although
  clearly if we want to, the United States has very considerable assets in that
  area.  The issue is the extent to which other countries also play a part and
  there is quite a strong feeling, not least in the United States, that the
  United States cannot always be expected to provide all of the vital assets
  that are needed whenever the Nato Alliance wishes to take military action.
        29.      But we know that heavy lift is one of the areas.  What are the
  other areas?  You know of the potential buy-outs of that heavy lift problem,
  of firing the Americans to take us somewhere, but what are the other areas
  that are particular problems?  You have avoided telling us.
        (Mr Hatfield)  Are you focusing on the EU's Headline Goal or on Nato's
  DCI, because DCI of course does have some quite high-tech heavy capability
  areas which are not within the scope of the Headline Goal because Nato has
  obviously much wider ambitions.
        30.      There are five key areas in DCI.  Which ones are you achieving
  and which ones are you failing to get anywhere near?
        (Mr Hatfield)  I think the ones which are going to take the longest to
  come in are some of the improvements in what is known in the trade as ISTAR:
  intelligence, surveillance, targeting, acquisition and reconnaissance, because
  it simply will take us time not only to acquire the new generation equipments
  but also to bring them into service and integrate them with Command and
  Control.  That is true for anybody.  There is not much you can do at the
  margin to speed it up.
        31.      Because it is very important, is it not?
        (Mr Hatfield)  It is very important indeed and it will produce long term
  benefits.  That is probably the area which is going to take the longest to
  bring in although I would not regard that as necessarily being a failure
  because it is the most demanding target.
        32.      The next one?
        (Mr Hatfield)  I would not like to put them into order of speed and
  priority after that.  That is the most demanding long term target.  The most
  immediate one is to do with mobility, where there are some quite large short
  term fixes coming in.  We have already talked about that.  There are, both for
  the EU and Nato, long term plans as well and, as the Secretary of State said,
  the A400M will take quite some time to come into service.  Another identified
  area of weakness, particularly for the Europeans, was in medium and heavy
  support helicopters.  Again that is linked to procurement plans.  We know
  several countries in Europe at the moment are (we hope) about to make some
  decisions on helicopters.  Over the next few years we will see those sorts of
  capabilities coming in but they will take longer than the immediate priorities
  of 2003 Headline Goal which, though it is in some ways demanding, is quite a
  limited segment of capability.
        33.      Can you tell us one which you are relatively happy about?
        (Mr Hatfield)  What I am happiest about is the way that the European
  countries are starting to organise better the forces they have got so that out
  of the large numbers that they are able to muster they can get deployed more
  quickly.  Heavy lift and so on will make a difference to that but it is
  organising the armed forces in some ways similar to the way we did in
  modernising the British Army and other services throughout this decade, the
  way the French are going.  The Norwegians are doing something similar even
  though they are not in the EU.  Those I think are the biggest short term gains
  that we are going to get and putting together some specialist capabilities on
  a joint basis where they are in short supply.  We have seen that in the
  Balkans already with a multinational hospital.  Deployed hospitals are one of
  the biggest difficulties we all face.
        34.      My final point is this.  Does the effort that has been put in to
  achieve good results in the five years of DCI conflict with or reinforce the
  work on the CESDP?
        (Mr Hatfield)  I would put it the other way round because the DCI is the
  bigger project.  The European CESDP project reinforces the DCI.
        35.      And does it distract from it?
        (Mr Hatfield)  It certainly does not distract from it.
                               Mr Cohen
        36.      Secretary of State, is there systematic evidence that European
  allies are actually spending more on defence?  Is there an across the board
  real increase?
        (Mr Hoon)   As we discussed earlier on this afternoon, there are a number
  of figures that have been in circulation.  The one that I tend to find
  persuasive is that around 11 of the 15 countries have increased their
  expenditure but the way in which different countries, as I mentioned earlier,
  assess their defence expenditure does depend on what items they count in. 
  Undoubtedly, however, there has been a real change in approach amongst
  European nations, partly related to a recognition that defence today is a more
  expensive and more complex business and does require extra resources. 
  Probably more fundamentally, the process that we went through in terms of the
  Strategic Defence Review is trying to identify what kind of military assets
  the country requires in the 21st century, something that actually in different
  ways has been done in France, in Italy, in Germany, and in a sense is under
  way as well even in the United States because the new administration is
  conducting a review.  It probably will not be as comprehensive as the
  Strategic Defence Review in the sense of starting from first principles, but
  nevertheless they are looking, as recent newspaper reports have indicated, at
  what are the priorities for the United States in this new century.  There are
  some quite fundamental ideas around about how you then relate that expenditure
  to those foreign policy objectives, which is precisely what we did in the
  Strategic Defence Review.  Whilst it is always attractive, and I am not in any
  way resiling from my determination to see more money spent on defence, it is
  also crucial that that money is spent in the right way and is spent in a way
  that is consistent with the obligations of a country like the United Kingdom
  and the state and its history so that we get the best value from the spending
  that we have.  Frankly, that must be true of every other country as well.
        37.      You said "spent in the right way".  In your earlier phrase about
  some of those countries you said that it depends on what they count in.  Are
  you saying that there are some glaring examples of things that they are
  counting in as defence expenditure that probably are not of any use to this
        (Mr Hoon)   No.  I was putting it the other way because there are some
  countries, and I mentioned Germany, that do not necessarily count in major
  equipment purchases, for example, because that is funded from a different part
  of their national budget.  Although it is hard to see how, for example, the
  A400M could be anything other than a defence commitment and will count as part
  of our defence budget, the money is actually voted quite separately and
  therefore does not at this stage appear in their defence spending but it will
  do after the event.
        38.      Then you said about it being spent in the right way.  That is
  something that George Robertson, the Director-General of Nato, has also said
  has to be spent more wisely and more efficiently.  Is there any common base
  line across Europe to assess that this is being done?
        (Mr Hoon)   That is never going to be an easy question to answer and I am
  not going to pretend that it is.  The Headline Goal, because it is about
  outputs, is maybe the start of a process that could ultimately lead to that
  kind of base line assessment which, certainly if you are saying it would be
  a good thing, I would strongly agree with that because one of the problems
  that the United Kingdom very often believes it has is that we organise
  ourselves efficiently and effectively and are able to put a relatively limited
  number of members of the armed forces into an operation, yet still derive the
  same output, the same benefit, from that commitment compared to other
  countries who perhaps have to deploy many more people because part of the
  changes that have been undertaken are to ensure that our resources are focused
  on, if I can put it this way, our war fighting ability and that we do not have
  what is described sometimes as a long tail, that is, a long support for that,
  because we have looked very carefully in ensuring that the money we spend goes
  on our key capabilities.  That again is something that does mean that we get
  the best return for our defence expenditure.
        39.      I think this term "best practice" needs to be debated right
  across the European forces.
        (Mr Hoon)   These are delicate, sensitive, diplomatic and political
  issues but I do not say you are wrong.
        40.      Can I move on to the issue of intelligence co-operation?  There
  is a definite need for it, and indeed there is a definite need for it in Nato
  operations which need to be improved, let alone in this new European force. 
  Mr Hatfield did say in answer to Mr Hancock that it would take longer to bring
  in.  Could you indicate the framework which you envisage under which this
  would operate?
        (Mr Hoon)   Could I emphasise that there is excellent intelligence co-
  operation inside Nato.
        41.      There were problems in Kosovo.  It came from individual countries
  rather than Nato having an input.  They had to rely on individual countries.
        (Mr Hoon)   But that intelligence is an exchange; that intelligence is
  moved around as appropriate.  No ally is going to allow forces deployed into
  an operation not to have access to relevant intelligence.  It is always the
  case that individual nations are responsible for the collection of the
  intelligence but nevertheless there is an extremely co-operative basis upon
  which that intelligence is then distributed within Nato.  I anticipate that
  the same co-operative arrangements will prevail as far as any EU operation is
  concerned when Nato itself was not engaged.  In a sense, recourse to NATO
  assets and one of the areas we would be most commonly thinking of would be
  intelligence assets.
        42.      From what you are saying, this has implications for NATO as well. 
  I presume we stick to the idea that intelligence is owned and controlled by
  the individual country and they either put it in the pool or they do not. 
  They may choose not to.  There will not be any intelligence that either NATO
  or this rapid reaction force will have as of right to carry out an operation
  and also the intelligence will not necessarily be shared equally between
  allies in an operation.
        (Mr Hatfield)  I think that is slightly misunderstanding the way it is
  normally done.  With a few very specialist exceptions like the NATO early
  warning aircraft, most of the intelligence gathering assets are nationally
  owned, whether they are human assets if you like or technical assets.  What
  NATO provides is a framework for gathering that intelligence together,
  assessing it collectively and passing it to commanders or ministers, as
  required.  That will be done on a tactical basis for the EU by whatever units
  are deployed in the field.  We envisage that, so far as strategic assets are
  required, we can probably ask individual nations or NATO to provide the
  information from those sources.  It has always been the case that individual
  intelligence gathering operations have been run by individual states and fed
  into a common pool.
        43.      The United Kingdom has long standing agreements with the United
  States.  These are European operations that the United States will not be
  directly involved in.  How do you think those arrangements will be affected?
        (Mr Hoon)   I do not believe that they will be in any way.
        (Mr Hatfield)  The assets that we have are British.  We have an
  arrangement with the United States which is bilateral and to mutual advantage. 
  Those assets remain ours whether they are to be used for a national operation,
  a NATO operation or indeed an EU-led operation.  We will pass information
  drawn from those assets into the operation as required.  We will also ask NATO
  for information from their sources or even the United States, but it will be
  the information that is passed, not the raw intelligence.
        44.      Lastly, the Torrejon satellite, the French satellite based in
  Spain.  That is being transferred from the WEU to the EU.  Do we see any value
  in that for the United Kingdom?  Is there any cost commitment of it to the
  United Kingdom?  Is it of any use?
        (Mr Hatfield)  For military purposes, it is of fairly marginal use.  It
  is a satellite headquarters, an assessment centre, if you like.  The
  satellites it draws information from are commercial type satellites that
  provide useful information for a number of purposes, but you would not try and
  run a military operation from it.  It is not a replacement for proper military
        (Mr Hoon)   Most of the imagery that that centre procures is procured
  commercially.  Presumably, if you had enough money, you could go out and get
  the same imagery for yourself.
                               Dr Lewis
        45.      Secretary of State, on the question of expenditure, is it not a
  fact that internal NATO documents which were leaked into the public domain at
  the beginning of the month showed that only six of NATO's 16 European members
  are planning real defence spending increases over the next five years and all
  but one of them are minor players in the alliance?  You may recall the last
  time we discussed the rapid reaction force that we reminded you what Kaspar
  Weinberger had said, namely that it is a mathematical certainty that if we are
  drawing on the same forces to do something with the EU rapid reaction force
  that are currently allocated to NATO, unless there is some significant
  increase in the forces that are available if an EU-led operation is underway,
  there will be a diminution in NATO's capability to undertake operations in
  those actions in which it wants to be involved.  Are you satisfied that the
  big players in NATO are going significantly to increase their forces'
  contributions and the expenditure concerned?
        (Mr Hoon)   We do not normally comment on leaked documents.  I would
  invite you to have some doubt, as a member of the British Parliament, about
  the veracity of those figures because you will have studied very carefully the
  government's expenditure forecasts on defence.  The six countries that you
  mention in those documents did not include the United Kingdom, whereas you
  know as a Member of Parliament that there is a very specific commitment to
  increased defence spending in each of the next three years over and above
  inflation.  There is something wrong with those figures right at the outset. 
  To deal with the substance of your argument, it is something that I have said
  a number of times already.  I could deal with your argument by simply saying
  that it is not how much the European nations spend on defence; it is what they
  spend it on.  The European nations could so reorganise all of their defence
  expenditure to satisfy the output test of the Helsinki headline goal and
  significantly increase their capability to do that particular job, which is
  to move forces quickly into a crisis.  They would be left unhappy and no doubt
  your counterparts on the relevant parliamentary committees around Europe would
  be left unhappy because, in order to satisfy that goal, there would be a
  number of things that they would then omit to do.  It is about how they spend
  the money but at the same time, I repeat, we would also like to see our
  partners and allies in Europe spending more.  It has to be spent on the right
  things, on the right sort of capabilities.  It is about capability and that
  has always been our emphasis.
        46.      It seems to me that what you are saying is that, by efficiency
  savings, it is possible to undertake the extra commitments that might be
  involved without any reduction.
        (Mr Hoon)   I do not want to mislead you.  I am not saying it is about
  efficiency.  It is about making judgments about what kind of military
  capability countries need, individually, bilaterally if they work together and
  as part of international alliances like NATO in order to ensure that they have
  the right kind of military capability in order to do the jobs that are needed
  of military forces in the modern world.  If we concentrated on that capability
  issue, we would probably understand each other more.
        47.      That is a good general answer but can I ask you to be specific
  in this way: which particular countries do you anticipate improving over,
  shall we say, the next five years the strength of their armed forces to the
  point that, if the EU were engaged in an operation in which NATO did not wish
  to be involved, there would be no diminution in NATO's capability to engage
  in the operations in which it does wish to be involved?
        (Mr Hoon)   I am not going to participate in a guessing game amongst
  which particular countries.  There is a determined political commitment by the
  EU countries to satisfy the Helsinki headline goal.  To the extent that they
  are successful in doing that -- and you invited me back to discuss this in a
  number of years' time on a previous occasion  -- they will not only improve
  their capabilities and the capabilities of European Union nations collectively
  where NATO is not engaged; they will also improve NATO and NATO's collective
  capabilities, which is why it is not in any way a diminution in NATO's ability
  because, by achieving what we achieve through the Helsinki headline goal, we
  will be strengthening NATO.
        48.      Let me turn to the question that was asked earlier about whether
  the Prime Minister had succeeded in overcoming the appearance of there being
  fundamental differences in perception between the United Kingdom and France. 
  You gave us your explanation for the comments that were reported today by the
  French chief of defence staff ----
        (Mr Hoon)   I actually gave you his.
        49.      ---- and the fact that he had been selectively quoted by the
  newspaper.  Leaving aside the fact that all quotations are almost by
  definition selective, one quotation that has not been denied is the quotation
  from Mr Blair reported on 18 March, when he said, "If we do not get involved
  in European defence, it will happen without Britain.  Then those people who
  really may have an agenda to destroy NATO will have control of it."  I think
  that any logical reading of those words means that there is some other allied
  state that Mr Blair had in mind as having an agenda to destroy NATO.  Would
  you like to categorically state that it was not France to which Mr Blair was
        (Mr Hoon)   I was asked this question in defence questions only the other
  day and I made it clear then that the Prime Minister was referring to those
  people as individuals.  You know as well as I do that there are individuals
  around who would seek to undermine NATO.
        50.      Some people may find that convincing.  I do not.  Would you
  reassure me on this point: are you saying that the French accept that NATO
  will have the right of first refusal in deciding whether they wish to get
  involved in any conflict?
        (Mr Hoon)   I will give you a flavour of what the French president has
  said.  He said, "European defence is being done and can only be done in
  complete harmony with NATO.  It is a question of two tracks which are
  complementary and not in competition."
        51.      Yes, but that does not entail a right of first refusal.  You can
  have two entirely autonomous bodies which are operating separately but in
  harmony.  The question is: is it the case that the French, despite what is
  reported in the press today, do accept that NATO should have the right of
  first refusal?
        (Mr Hoon)   I have dealt with this before with the Committee.  That is to
  fundamentally misunderstand the way in which countries work together within
  alliances.  They work together bilaterally.  They do not insulate themselves
  from conversations with partners and allies when a crisis is developing.  I
  know that you are determined to see NATO and the EU in competition and as
  rivals.  Somehow you imagine that it would be possible for a head of state or
  head of government to say, "I am having a conversation today as a head of
  state, as a member of NATO, but later on I am going to have a completely
  different and separate conversation with someone else.  I am going to forget
  what I said in the first conversation as a member of the European Union."  It
  just does not happen like that.  What happens in the context of a crisis is
  that there will be a whole series of conversations taking place between the
  United Kingdom and the United States, between the United Kingdom and France
  and also between the United States and France.  They do speak to each other. 
  They have regular contacts and international positions are then worked out
  collectively through institutions but crucially through the kinds and ranges
  of informal contacts that go on day in, day out between governments.  In those
  circumstances, the decision as to who might be responsible ultimately for an
  operation will be a decision that will be taken with the fullest participation
  of all of our partners and allies.  What we have set out clearly as being
  where NATO is not engaged means precisely what it says.  It means that the EU
  would only be involved where NATO is not engaged.
        52.      And does not wish to be engaged?
        (Mr Hoon)   And does not wish to be engaged.  
        53.      Can you spell out where is it specifically laid down in all the
  documentation, the treaties, the annexes, the understandings, the presidency
  reports, that NATO will have this first option of taking part?
        (Mr Hoon)   It has been in every single agreement on European defence
  that an EU operation would only be launched when NATO is not engaged.  I know
  you spend a long time studying the details of the St Malo agreement and I know
  you have some difficulties with that.  If you look in the St Malo agreement,
  you will see that phrase written down in that agreement between France and the
  United Kingdom.
        (Mr Hatfield)  The EU might be operating in areas where NATO does not
  have a remit, outside Europe.
                              Mr Hancock
        54.      You have said a number of times this afternoon, and you have made
  great play of it, that it is not how much they spend; it is what they spend
  it on.  When it comes to what they spend it on, how much of that do you think
  is going to be spent on buying from European defence industries?  How do you
  think what is going on at the moment and the ambitions for certain states to
  potentialise their contribution to it is actually going to be beneficial to
  the European defence industries, or are they simply going to be buying
  everything off the shelf from the United States?
        (Mr Hoon)   It depends what kind of equipment we are discussing.  There
  is no doubt that at the high end -- stealthy aircraft is one illustration that
  we have touched on already -- the developed technology tends to be American. 
  At the more basic equipment end, there are a range of European suppliers who
  would be able to satisfy the requirements.  I am afraid your question is so
  open ended that it is difficult to be specific.
        55.      Do you think that European defence industries are working closely
  enough together to ensure that they are not going to get left behind?  Are you
  sure that what is trying to be achieved in achieving the five headline goals
  fairly quickly is not going to suggest that they cannot keep up with the pace
  of the re-equipping that will be necessary and it simply means that we will
  turn, as always, more and more often to the United States to buy from?
        (Mr Hoon)   I am sorry to repeat myself but again it does really depend
  on the kind of equipment that we are discussing.  Building a ro-ro ferry, for
  example, does not involve enormous sophistication in terms of the technology
  that is required.  There are a number of companies not only in Europe but in
  the United Kingdom that could satisfy that obligation in a technical sense. 
  That is vital to the ability to move people and equipment quickly and
  effectively.  Equally, as I have indicated, there are some areas of stealth
  technology where we would have to go to the United States.  As far as the JSF
  project is concerned, there are some areas of the technology that will be
  incorporated into that aircraft where the United States has to come not only
  to Europe but to the United Kingdom because they do not have that particular
  kind of technology that they want to develop.  What your question demonstrates
  is that it depends on the sophistication of the equipment that we are
  discussing but also it does demonstrate that globally defence industries are
  becoming ever more integrated.  I do not think there is any doubt about that,
  but I do not think they are becoming integrated along precise geographic
  lines.  If you are tempting me into suggesting that there should be a European
  industry as against a US industry, I simply do not believe that that is going
  to happen.  There is a great deal of transatlantic integration both between
  the United Kingdom and north America as well as between continental Europe and
  north America.
        56.      Do you see any evidence of US markets opening up to European
  defence manufacturers?
        (Mr Hoon)   We signed an agreement towards the end of last year with the
  United States specifically designed to provide opportunities for British
  industry and to give it access on an equal basis with industry's access from
  the United States to our market.  I believe that that, together with other
  agreements that have been reached in Europe, is a very important platform for
  that kind of process.  BAE Systems these days, even leaving aside
  intergovernmental agreements, believes that it now earns more money in the
  United States than it does in the United Kingdom.  Rolls Royce has made a very
  important acquisition in the United States.  Our companies are increasingly
  operating very successfully in the United States.
                                Mr Cann
        57.      Would you not accept that there are only two companies left in
  America, Lockheed Martin and Boeing?
        (Mr Hoon)   I suspect Rapier might have a view on that.
        58.      They are interlocking ownerships.  Surely all we are talking
  about in British industry there is basically components, are we not?
        (Mr Hoon)   No.  I think we all tend to get a little hypnotised by the
  big, exciting projects, fast jets, heavy lift aircraft, some very
  sophisticated ships for our navies, but the procurement of defence equipment
  goes right down to rowing boats, as a very basic illustration.  In those
  circumstances, it is necessary to look at what point in the chain you are
  looking at, because, as I have said to the Committee before, I am a customer
  on behalf of the United Kingdom taxpayer.  My job is to get the best value and
  also the best technology.  That might mean, in terms of the technology, that
  we are at the high end going to be looking at some very sophisticated
  equipment that perhaps can only be available in one or two places anywhere in
  the world; but it may also mean, as far as rowing boats are concerned, that
  I want an array of potential suppliers both in the United Kingdom and in
  Europe and around the world to give me the best price.  Some of this
  conversation is just too abstract.
                              Mr Hancock
        59.      What we are talking this afternoon is European countries
  cooperating in the field of defence.  How do you and your colleagues in your
  jobs in the other partnership countries assess European defence industries? 
  How do you assess the role they are going to play in delivering this re-
  equipping process?  I do not see many of them queuing up to buy armoured cars,
  bullets and guns from the United Kingdom.
        (Mr Hoon)   I strongly disagree with you.  We have one of the most
  successful defence industries of any country in the world.  We sell our
  defence equipment and sustain tens of thousands of jobs in the United Kingdom
  because of that success.  We have a range of equipment that really is world
  beating both in terms of its technology and in terms of its utility. 
  Countries queue up ----
        60.      Bought by our European colleagues?
        (Mr Hoon)   You keep interrupting me.
        61.      I think we should stick to the issue of Europe, not worldwide.
        (Mr Hoon)   First of all, I am talking about the United Kingdom and the
  United Kingdom has an extraordinarily successful defence industry.  That
  industry is successful, as I indicated earlier, not only in the United States
  but all around the world.  Wherever I travel in the world, there is very
  rarely a country that I go to that is not interested in acquiring equipment
  manufactured in the United Kingdom, either equipment solely manufactured in
  the United Kingdom or where we manufacture equipment in conjunction with other
        62.      Why can we not be successful with our European partners in
  selling this equipment?
        (Mr Hoon)   The answer I am going to give is Eurofighter.  The Greeks
  have just indicated their willingness to buy Eurofighter.  I am confident that
  there will be other countries, both in Europe and beyond, that will find that
  particular aircraft an extremely exciting addition to their equipment.  I am
  not at all pessimistic.  I am slightly surprised at the tone of your question
  because by implication it appears to be running down British industry and the
  European defence industry, both of which are extremely successful.
        63.      Completely the opposite.  Our European allies who badly need
  equipping are not buying from us.
        (Mr Hoon)   I have given you one example already.  We will send you a
                              Mr Viggers
        64.      One of the greatest fears of the United States is that the
  European Rapid Reaction force will be built around an independent planning
  function within the European Military Committee and the European Military
  Staff.  There has been, despite the original statement of principles by the
  Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, some decoupling, some duplication and
  some discrimination in setting up a European Rapid Reaction Force.  How
  realistic are these fears?
        (Mr Hoon)   Can I simply disagree with the premise?  There has been no
  decoupling; there has been no duplication.  There is nothing that has been
  agreed that in any way changes the view either of the last administration or
  frankly the views of the current administration.  We have made it quite clear
  that, as far as operational planning is concerned, that will be a matter that
  we would assume would be the responsibility of NATO.  That has been agreed.
        65.      Why is Turkey so concerned?
        (Mr Hoon)   Turkey has a slightly different view, not least because they
  are not a member of the European Union.  I came back late last night from
  Turkey where some of these issues were discussed.  Turkey wants to see -- and
  I can perfectly well understand it from their point of view -- the same sort
  of arrangements that they have enjoyed in the WEU available to them as part
  of this process.  There are discussions underway -- they have been underway
  for some time -- to try and ensure that Turkey is comfortable with the
  consultation arrangements that have been extended.  I am quietly confident
  that in time Turkey will recognise that. It is not a problem for the European 
        66.      From my own experience, it is certainly a problem within Turkey. 
  Can you clarify for us how the relationship works between the Political
  Security Committee and the European Military Committee on the one hand and the
  staff in Mr Solana's office on the other?
        (Mr Hoon)   The Political Security Committee's job will be to make an
  assessment of how the European Union could respond to a given crisis, a given
  situation.  Part of that job will undoubtedly be to advise on military options
  and they will have a very small military staff whose job it will be to give
  advice as to the kinds of options that might be available.  Once that moves
  to operational planning in terms of executing those options, that will be a
  matter for NATO planners.  That is why any operational decision will be taken
  through the NATO processors which, for obvious reasons, are extremely
  experienced at that kind of planning.
        67.      One key feature of NATO is that the operational language is
  English.  This is crucially important.  Language training is a very important
  part of NATO in joint operations.  Have you perceived any risk at all that
  English might be challenged? I am not just being nationalistic here because
  it is the language also of our American and Canadian allies.  Is there any
  risk at all that English might be challenged as the operational language for
  the European Rapid Reaction Force and European forces?
        (Mr Hoon)   I preferred the first version of your question.  I have not
  perceived any risk to it.
                                Mr Hood
        68.      How much independent input is the European Union likely to
  provide to the institution supporting the ERRF?
        (Mr Hatfield)  The key thing that is autonomous is the ability to take
  political decisions.  The only independent input that the EU will have in
  terms of machinery is a small-ish military staff, about the same size as the
  WEU had which has been abolished, which can frame the questions that will be
  sent off to the NATO planning staffs for preparing options for them to
  consider.  Beyond that, it will depend on drawing on capabilities either from
  NATO or from the EU nations, so there will not be anything else independent
  being created for the EU as such.
        69.      Are other NATO allies double hatting their representatives on the
  Military Committee?
        (Mr Hatfield)  I think it is 9 out of 11.
        70.      So they are double hatting?
        (Mr Hatfield)  With two exceptions at the moment, Belgium and France.
        71.      Will the DSACEUR have the right to attend the Military Committee?
        (Mr Hatfield)  In general, yes.
        72.      What does that mean?
        (Mr Hatfield)  He is not a full member because, as in the case of NATO,
  it is a committee that is formed of the national chiefs of defence at the
  highest level.  For normal business, he would attend, especially where he was
  being consulted on aspects which are his responsibility overlapping between
  NATO and the EU.  There may be some business -- for example, if the EU
  Military Committee was making another selection for its next chairman -- where
  you would not expect him to attend, but for most business he would be open to
  attend.  That is written down in the documents that have already been
        73.      He will only be able to attend when he is invited?
        (Mr Hatfield)  He will normally be present.  He is not a member of the
        74.      He has no right to attend; he has to be invited?
        (Mr Hatfield)  So does anybody else who is not a chief of defence for one
  of the countries concerned.
        75.      So the DSACEUR does not have a right to attend?
        (Mr Hatfield)  Correct, but he will normally be invited.
        76.      I do not know what you mean by "normally".  "Normally" can mean
  many things.
        (Mr Hatfield)  For most meetings and for all meetings where it actually
  impinges on his responsibility for  European forces in the EU and in NATO, he
  will be invited, but some aspects of business -- for example, the election of
  a new chairman of committee -- are simply a matter for the committee
  themselves and do not directly affect the DSACEUR.
                             Laura Moffatt
        77.      We had just started to talk about the WEU and we would like to
  know the current status and its dependent organisations.
        (Mr Hoon)   There was a decision that in time the WEU will be wound down. 
  That decision was announced in November 2000.  There is a transitional phase. 
  It has been decided that the Netherlands presidency will work on that process
  to determine what happens to its residual functions by July this year.  There
  is a process but some parts of that process -- not least the Assembly, for
  example -- are not yet determined.
        78.      That being the case, when would you hope to see the functions of
  the WEU settled within the EU structure?  Is there a time limit?
        (Mr Hoon)   There is not.  For example, the Assembly is one of those
  areas where I am not sure it is wholly appropriate for governments to
  determine that matter.  I made it clear previously in response to
  parliamentary questions that it seems to me more a matter for the members of
  the Assembly to determine whether they still wish to continue to provide that
  kind of parliamentary advice to governments that they currently make
  available.  That is a debate that I know is taking place amongst members of
  the Assembly and their colleagues in the European Parliament.
        79.      That being so, I accept what you say that it is for them to
  decide they are not going to meet as an Assembly, but what will form the
  alternative to that democratic input to the whole process?
        (Mr Hoon)   I have resisted being drawn on that because, given the
  curiosities of the United Kingdom's constitution, I am both a Member of
  Parliament and a member of the executive.  That is a relatively unusual
  position in modern constitutions and therefore it does seem to me, since you
  invite me here not as a Member of Parliament but as a member of the executive,
  that that is essentially a parliamentary matter for the members of the
  Assembly to advise on.  Ultimately, if there is to be a treaty change between
  the governments, that would have to come to the executive but I do think it
  is right that in the first place it ought to be for the members of the
  Assembly and relevant Members of Parliament to give advice on what sort of
  structures they think appropriate.  Obviously, that will be a view that we
  would take very strongly into account.
        80.      Do you believe that it is important that there is that
  accountability process within the whole new structure?
        (Mr Hoon)   I would rather use the word "advice" because I am accountable
  to the House of Commons, as a member of the executive, for decisions I take
  as Secretary of State for Defence.  That is where my accountability lies and
  that is very strongly the view that I adhere to.  I do see a role for broader
  thinking and advice that can come from a parliamentary assembly of the kind
  that we are discussing, but I do not think it is strictly the case that I
  would be accountable to such an assembly.
                               Mr Cohen
        81.      Turning to the wider questions, the rapid reaction force is about
  troops, tactical operations, peace keeping and peace enforcement but Britain
  and France are both nuclear weapons powers.  Do you see any possibility
  further down the road of the EU having a nuclear component to its forces?
        (Mr Hoon)   No.
        82.      Turkey has been mentioned, but there are six non-EU allies
  involved in this.  How are they going to be integrated in the
  political/military decision making process?
        (Mr Hoon)   We have indicated a range of mechanisms by which there would
  be regular consultation and meetings between the 15 and the 6.  We have
  discussed this afternoon the capabilities conference and all six were present
  in a meeting immediately afterwards, where they also indicated the force
  contributions that they could make available to any rapid reaction force as
  and when required.  There will be an extensive process of ensuring the
  involvement of all six in the discussions and deliberations that are made by
  the 15.
                               Dr Lewis
        83.      Do you think that the whole ESDP process is bolstering or
  straining transatlantic links specifically with the Bush administration?
        (Mr Hoon)   I think it is very considerably strengthening the
  arrangements because the Americans have long argued understandably that they
  want to see a much greater contribution to military capability from European
  nations than they have seen in the past.  I know that it is something that
  this Committee has been also concerned about.  In those circumstances, by
  setting out this quite deliberate goal of improving our military capability,
  we are, as I have said to you before, both improving our ability to act as a
  European nation but crucially improving our contribution and our capability
  within NATO.
        84.      I accept that that is your intention.  To what extent do you
  think you are succeeding in getting that version of what is being done
  accepted in America?  I particularly have in mind some of the comments of
  Defence Secretary Rumsfeld when he has pointed out, "We have so much at stake
  with that alliance" -- meaning NATO -- "we need to be vigilant to see that we
  do not do anything that would inject an instability into the alliance.  It is
  a lot easier to put something at risk than it is to fashion it in the first
  place."  He would not be making these sorts of comments, would he, unless
  there was some degree of doubt in his mind?
        (Mr Hoon)   I think he is setting out quite rightly the concerns that all
  of us have to ensure that this is about improving our capabilities.  I do not
  want to trade Donald Rumsfeld quotes with you but I had a long conversation
  with him last week.  He said, for example, not just last week, "I favour
  efforts that strengthen NATO.  Actions that enhance capabilities can
  strengthen the alliance.  The question is the extent to which the participants
  in the European force desire to increase their capabilities."  These are all
  very supportive of what we are trying to do, which is to improve military
        85.      He did famously say that the devil is in the detail.  You were
  quoted on 22 March in the press as having said, "We have made it absolutely
  clear that those details are details we have to get right to ensure that
  European defence is wholly consistent with improving capabilities in the NATO
  context."  That seems to be an admission that if you do not get those details
  right you might fail to ensure that this scheme is improving and strengthening
  NATO as you wish.
        (Mr Hoon)   I agree with the quotations that you have set out.
        86.      And?
        (Mr Hoon)   And of course there is always a risk in a complex world that
  things can go wrong.  I think it would be foolish for me to sit here and
  pretend otherwise.  I am absolutely confident that we are on the right track,
  that the agreements that we have achieved so far are the right agreements,
  that they are going in the right direction and that ultimately we will be
  successful.  I recognise that it could go wrong; I just do not think it will.
        87.      What do you think the Russians make of this scheme?  What do you
  believe their perception is of the desirability or otherwise for the creation
  of this EU rapid reaction force?
        (Mr Hoon)   I honestly do not know.
                             Laura Moffatt
        88.      To what extent is the debate on  missile defence emphasising
  certain aspects of difference between the Europeans and the United States?  
        (Mr Hoon)   I do not think it is.  Indeed, the United States, the new
  administration, has made it very clear on a number of occasions that they will
  consult European allies and Russia and China for that matter before coming
  forward with any specific proposal.  I think there is a very determined effort
  amongst Europeans to react constructively to both the threat that we recognise
  the United States faces but also the means of the solution.
        89.      How does the United Kingdom try to put the NMD debate in a
  perspective that does not undermine the attempt of ESDP to strengthen
  transatlantic links?
        (Mr Hoon)   We have a strong bilateral relationship with the United
  States, our strongest ally.  We have said repeatedly that we would not want
  to see the United States have to meet this threat without our understanding
  and support.  Equally, the United States has made it clear that it would want
  to consult with allies, not only the United Kingdom but continental allies as
  well as countries that are not even allied to the United States, before it
  goes ahead with any proposal.  It is part of the example that I was giving to
  Dr Lewis earlier.  The world is a more complex place sometimes than some
  Members of this Committee might suggest.  Relationships are conducted both on
  a bilateral basis  but also multilaterally through the various alliances that
  we are part of.
        90.      That is interesting.  How do we prevent the exchanges from, say,
  Europe about NMD upsetting the Americans and the United States upsetting the
  Russians and ending up with a great carry-on, shouting at each other across
  the Atlantic?  How do we pick our way through that?
        (Mr Hoon)   I do not think it happens like that.  I do not think there
  are exchanges at the volume that, by implication, your question suggests.  On
  the other hand, again, I find it a little surprising sometimes that it is
  suggested to me, especially here in a parliamentary committee, that there
  should not from time to time be differences of opinion between countries and
  within countries.  I spent some time in Congress the other day and the range
  of opinions that you will find there reflects the entertaining range of
  opinions that I would find here.  In parliamentary democracies, I would expect
  to find that.  Indeed, if I did not find that, there would be something
  seriously wrong because we would not have that kind of lively debate about
  these important issues that is so necessary.
        91.      That must be unquestionably true but how do we avoid getting
  nations into a corner, saying things that they find it very difficult to get
  out of later?  Debate is fine but how do you stop that?
        (Mr Hoon)   I do not think actually we do that, if you are referring to
  the Government now.  I think governments are very careful to avoid painting
  each other into a corner.  We have very distinguished members of the press
  here and one of the dangers is that they seize upon quotations, sadly
  sometimes taken out of context, in order to write glorious headlines that
  presumably are designed to sell a few newspapers the next day, but that is not
  always part of the real debate that is going on.  I accept, again, in a
  democracy it is right that they should be able to pick things out in that way
  but it does not always give a full picture both of the breadth of the debate
  or perhaps of the breadth of the comments made by the individual in question. 
  It will be interesting to see what they make of my remarks tomorrow.
        Chairman:   There are times when we would like any publicity, lies or
        Dr Lewis:   Speak for yourself, Chairman.
        Chairman:   Frankly, if I can keep unanimity among this bunch then NATO
  should be fairly easy.  We have just one more question which is fittingly from
  the Deputy Chairman, Peter Viggers.
                              Mr Viggers
        92.      Our discussion has been a little unstructured because the
  Petersberg tasks, the lower range of military intensity tasks which the
  European defence identity is meant to face up to is, of course, unspecified. 
  Do you envisage that it will be necessary and it will be helpful to be more
  specific in the Petersberg tasks?  Would that help to enable individuals to
  know exactly what the Europeans might be facing alone without NATO?
        (Mr Hoon)   Part of the elaboration of the goal, in a sense, is to
  prepare contingency plans for the range of operations that a European force
  might become involved with where NATO was not engaged.  That would give us
  some more precise indication of the kind of force packages that would be
  required and how we would deal with them.  I am fairly comfortable with the
  Petersberg tasks because I do not really think that we can ever precisely
  identify the kind of operation that is going to come up because no two
  operations are ever the same, they always have very different kinds of
  requirements both in the political context and the military response.  What
  we are trying to do is to ensure that across a range of different commitments
  we have the right kind of forces available.  I do not think it particularly
  helps to be too specific about what that particular operation might consist
        93.      Thank you very much.  I am sorry to have pushed the Committee
  very hard but I am about to make a speech of Brezhnev-type length in the House
  of Commons on the regulation of the private security industry that I have been
  campaigning for for 25 years.
        (Mr Hoon)    I am sure that it will be extensively reported in tomorrow's
        Chairman:   If it is half as much as Brezhnev's speeches then I will be
        Mr Cann: The rest of us are going down the Chinkie.
        94.      Thank you very much.  I am not sure whether this will be the last
  public session of the Committee but if it is, and I suspect it might be
  although I have no inside knowledge, I would like to thank you and your
  Department for all the help you have usually provided and my Committee for
  their tolerance to my occasional bullying.  We would like to invite you and
  your fellow Ministers to a little beano next week.  If the election is not
  called then please hold that invitation in abeyance.  Thank you very much for
  coming along.
        (Mr Hoon)   Thank you all very much.
        Chairman:   I am sure the problems that you have been discussing will
  probably be debated more fully, if in a less informal manner, in the next few
  months.  Thank you.