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Lord Laming: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for a very encouraging Statement, encouraging both in its ambitions for the mental health services and for the extra resources to achieve those ambitions. As we are all agreed that the mental health services meet the needs of very many people, I should like to ask two questions about the needs of people who lead unpredictable lives and whose health fluctuates very considerably. Does the Minister agree that greater emphasis must be placed on a realistic assessment of need, especially for people who have few roots in the community and who are a danger to themselves potentially and a danger to other people? Secondly, does she agree that there is a need everywhere for community based multi-disciplinary teams which will be able to guarantee care and supervision to those people who have been seriously affected by mental illness and whose behaviour can at times be a threat to themselves and to others? Should not those teams be helped to strike a better balance between the rights of the individual and the safety of the community?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I am happy to agree with my noble friend on those points. We need a multi-disciplinary approach and we need people to work in teams and across the organisational boundaries that sometimes have impeded particularly hard-to-reach groups in getting the service they need. My noble friend is right to pinpoint the small number of individuals who perhaps provide the greatest challenge. In those cases, assertive outreach can be effective, but it must have a coherent and determined attitude in order to ensure that people get the help that they need. There is also the link that sometimes exists between serious mental illness and substance abuse. We need new investment in risk management, in early intervention, in 24-hour staffed beds and in assertive outreach services if we are to meet the needs of those individuals.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I wish to raise a practical issue. Is the Minister aware that there is a great problem at the moment in two respects? Some hospitals have so many psychiatric cases that they cannot provide non-executive directors to sit, as they are requested to do, on the hearing of every case. Does the Minister agree that there will be an extra burden of decisions to be made in so many cases? One category has large numbers of patients and there is, therefore, a burden on the existing number of non-executive directors even if they are all available. I was reminded last night that in many parts of the country places for

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non-executive directors have been left vacant. That is imposing a great additional burden on those who remain. Can the Minister assure us that she will take back to the department the necessity for appointing people to these posts so that they can carry out this responsible decision-making?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I am certainly willing to give that assurance to the noble Baroness. We are making a great deal of progress this year--better than last year--but I recognise that in some areas there are still problems. We are certainly seeking to fill those vacancies.

The noble Baroness raised a broader question about the role and responsibilities of non-executive directors in trusts that have mental health functions regarding duties under the Mental Health Act. That area will have to be looked at by Professor Richardson's working group because it is an area that has concerned people for a period of time. It is one of the areas where we simply do not have in the 1983 Act a framework which reflects patterns of services as they are today.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, we have reached the end of the 20 minutes on the Statement. We need to move on now.

Strategic Defence Review

5.19 p.m.

Debate resumed.

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, I am not so concerned about the content of the strategic review--although I understand that it is capable of being criticised, and has been criticised--because my noble friend in his usual efficient manner introduced it in a convincing way. Unfortunately the most important aspect of the whole defence world at this time receives no treatment at all in the document. I refer, of course, to the manifesto undertaking of my party that we shall seek the elimination of the nuclear weapon.

It is remarkable that a document of this kind should make no mention at all of the subject which divides the world at the moment. In effect we are divided between the nuclear powers and those who have an immediate ambition to follow in their track, and the vast majority who have no nuclear weapons. When the issue was discussed recently at the United Nations General Assembly, my Government joined in the opposition to their manifesto recommendation, rather than supporting it. Some 97 countries wanted to get rid of the nuclear weapon, but did our representative support them? Not a bit of it. Britain voted with the United States which does not wish to get rid of the nuclear weapon and has never pretended that it wishes to do so. However, I should say in parenthesis that there are many Americans who hold the same views on this subject as I do. However, they have not yet succeeded in persuading any United States government or potential government to change their mind on the matter. For some time America has been concerned with matters other than the nuclear weapon.

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We have recognised the importance of the nuclear weapon and the need to get rid of it. However, in the United Nations we voted against the commitment that was stated in the manifesto. We have issued a prolix document in the name of a senior civil servant; no Minister put his name to this explanation of why we decided to take this extraordinary decision. The document is more wordy than convincing. But there it is. Apparently there is now no effective government intention in sight to work hard and speedily--as the non-proliferation treaty provides--and with conviction to get rid of the nuclear weapon.

That is a sad state of affairs, particularly for someone like myself who served in the Royal Air Force during the war in SEAC (South-East Asia Command). The bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, but after the initial rejoicing was over some considerable concern was felt about this remarkable new weapon which had killed thousands of people in a moment. I shared that concern and I have shared it ever since. In the immediate years after that event I forgot about it, but in the 1950s a Labour government decided to make the hydrogen bomb, a bomb one hundred times more deadly than the one which had extinguished people in Hiroshima. At that point I became convinced that the world now had the power to destroy our entire civilisation. Nothing in man's past record on such matters has convinced me that this power will not be used.

For the past 17 years, ever since I have been in this House, I have from time to time stretched your Lordships' toleration when I have pointed out the danger that these weapons pose to us. I would not expect your Lordships to take any particular notice of what I say if I, alone, held these views, but I am not alone. One of the extraordinary features to emerge in the past few years is the conviction felt among what one might call the world's top brass that this is a weapon which cannot be used as a weapon of war without risk of incurring such destruction as might threaten civilisation itself.

Last year, for example, 60 admirals and generals gathered in Washington and declared themselves in favour of nuclear disarmament. Two most distinguished ex-chiefs of staff who sit in this House are convinced that the nuclear weapon must be eliminated. The Pope's representative has spoken more vehemently than I have with regard to why the nuclear weapon must go. The Pope's representative believes that humanity itself is threatened by the continued existence of the nuclear weapon. I believe that it will destroy our civilisation, but who knows whether we are talking about the destruction of our civilisation, or the destruction of humanity itself, or, indeed, of all life on earth? That is the kind of detail with which I do not wish to bother. However, if our civilisation is destroyed, all that we stand for will go with it. I do not know whether after that there will be any life on earth, or whether in 20, 30, 40 years or more there will be any more life on this earth than there is on the moon. However, I believe that the period of time during which we can carry on without a nuclear holocaust is pretty limited. My own guess, for what it is worth, is that probably the first century of the coming millennium will see the end of our civilisation, unless we change our course.

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I thought that my party had decided to change its course when it stated in its manifesto that it would pursue the elimination of the nuclear weapon. However, the document that we are discussing tonight on our strategic defence policy contains no effective undertaking in that regard. I should have thought that a substantial part of the document should contain the detail of how we bring about the elimination of the nuclear weapon, but not on your life! Instead of that, we vote against ourselves in the United Nations.

I shall not leave this subject alone; your Lordships have not heard the last from me. However, I do not wish to take up too much of the time that is available in this debate. Although this matter ought to be included in the document, it is not. Later in the debate, we shall hear from the noble Lord, Lord Carver, who can speak with considerable authority on this subject.

I hope that we shall begin to deal with this matter more seriously than we have done hitherto. There are two opinions on it. There are the opinions held in the non-nuclear world, which is wholly against nuclear weapons; and there are the opinions held in the nuclear world--opinions which are not widely held among the population. According to opinion polls the vast majority of people are in favour of the elimination policy which we declare ourselves to be in favour of but do not carry out. If that is the case, we have a duty to listen to what people are saying, particularly in those countries that do not have nuclear weapons, and to busy ourselves carrying out the policy on which we went to the country and won a magnificent victory.

I hope that we may be able to do something to heal the breach that exists between those with nuclear weapons and those without. That breach can be healed only by our joining the "withouts", not by the "withouts" joining us. That way lies perdition.

5.31 p.m.

The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, it is a pleasure to salute and congratulate from these Benches the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent of Coleshill, on his admirable maiden speech. It was wise, thought-provoking and shrewd. The noble Lord also issued a caution to the Front Bench. If anyone is unwise enough to doubt the need for distinguished servicemen in this House who have advised Ministers at the highest level, the noble Lord's maiden speech must have deterred them from that view. I hope that, next year, when we discuss the reform of this Chamber we shall ensure that there will always be five star officers to give us their breadth of experience in planning and executing dangerous operations of war. I am sorry that there are no naval or Royal Air Force five star officers present to give us their views on the Strategic Defence Review. Perhaps we need more of those two categories in this House. I should welcome that.

It is a daunting experience to speak after the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, and before the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Inge. The former is a well-known and much respected campaigner for nuclear disarmament; the latter has to my knowledge never been

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a nuclear disarmer. Likewise, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, has never been Chief of the Defence Staff. I have been neither a campaigner for nuclear disarmament nor a defence chief. I had the privilege as a field officer to command sub-units in the Regular Army, an armoured car reconnaissance regiment and a TA infantry company. It is from that level that I make my small contribution. It will not be like cru champagne like that of the noble and gallant Lord; it will be something like Babycham--with no insult to Babycham!

We have been told that the Strategic Defence Review is bipartisan. I suggest that it is tripartisan. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, will speak as an independent from the Cross-Benches. I believe that our servicemen welcome politicians in both Houses agreeing on the broad principles of defence policy, because that gives them confidence. Woe betide us when we get into a situation like Suez, when there were arguments between the Front Benches in both Houses as to the efficacy of the operation while our servicemen were about to launch the "boat" from the blue. We welcome the Strategic Defence Review. It has been a long time coming, but it was worth waiting for. I hope that the services now have time to settle down.

I have a question for the Minister which he will not be able to answer, because the answer will not be known. Events over the years will provide the answer. Is this strategic defence approach sustainable? We welcome assurances about the great warships and aircraft carriers that are to be built. I am slightly more concerned that our amphibious landing ships will not be built soon enough. We await HMS "Bulwark" and HMS "Albion". We say that we are returning to last century, and the "boat" from the blue; we land our sailors, soldiers and airmen in order to carry out ground operations. But they need a "sea taxi", an amphibious landing ship to get them there. I understand that there will be a gap between building the new ones and the decommissioning of the old ones. How will the Government bridge that gap--beg, borrow or steal, or make do with something? Will it be a case of "debrouiller", a case of muddling through? Will it be improvisation? I am reminded by Professor Michael Howard, the distinguished professor of war studies both at London and at Oxford, who said during his Cheney lecture when considering a previous defence review, "I do not believe that Her Majesty's Government have got it exactly right. However, I can expect from this defence review that they have the ability to put it right, time, God willing, permitting". I hope that we can also say that about this defence review.

I wish to make three points. First, we are talking about defence diplomacy publicly in a Strategic Defence Review for the first time. I note the Outreach programme and welcome its expansion, including the greater use of attachments and short-term training teams and additional training courses particularly for those in central Europe. I refer to the land from the River Weser to the River Narva. A Lithuanian parliamentary delegation, under the deputy Speaker, Mr. Andrius Kubilius, is presently meeting officials from the Minister's department. They are discussing the

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enlargement of NATO. I hope that this distinguished group of Lithuanian members of parliament go away satisfied with what they learn from the Minister's officials. I suspect that they will be told that it will probably not be this year and that next year is unlikely. However, I hope that they will not be told that it will never happen, but that it will indeed happen at some time.

Will the Minister tell the House whether, following the Strategic Defence Review, we are to enhance our commitment to assist those nations that are recreating their defence forces on our own model?

I turn, secondly, to the Territorial Army. I experienced the undoubted sadness to be the sexton of a TA infantry company based at Hebburn on the Tyne. I was a sexton when it was wound up some eight years ago. Everyone in that 80-strong company found another home in another drill hall. The TA has now been cut again. Can the Minister give us some assurance, not that everyone who wishes to serve in the TA or whose commanding officers wish them to continue to serve in the TA will be found a home, but that his department will do all in its power to keep the junior and senior NCOs and the junior officers who have been expensively trained by the taxpayer and who still have a contribution to make?

Thirdly, we learn that we are short of 10,000 servicemen in the three services. The Minister was present in the Jubilee Room of the Westminster Hall on 25th November when members of your Lordships' defence group and members of the all-party defence group in the House of Commons listened to a presentation by Colonel Jackson, formerly of the Royal Green Jackets. Present to answer our questions were the Secretary of State, the Minister and the Chief of the General Staff, Sir Roger Wheeler. We saw an excellent film on that occasion. I believe that that film should be shown to a wider public, as should a naval one and a Royal Air Force one. Can the Minister assure us that we are using the media to present our defence forces in as good a light as possible? I suggest that there is no better way to present the defence forces than to get the soldier, the sailor and the airman to do it themselves.

5.41 p.m.

Lord Inge: My Lords, I start by congratulating my noble and gallant friend Lord Vincent on his maiden speech. I too congratulate the Government on the outcome of the strategic defence review. Ministers and the services were involved as a team from the outset and there was wide consultation. I know that the services feel that, within the constraints of the defence budget, it was a well-thought-out and successful review. In saying that, I include the Territorial Army, about which I shall say a little more in a moment.

I should like to highlight certain key points in the review that I think are important: the emphasis placed on the critical importance of NATO and this country's contribution as the lead nation within the allied rapid reaction corps; the commitment to, and the need to retain, a high intensity warfare capability--in other words, a true war-fighting capability; and the

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importance of improving our capability to project military power, which we need to be careful not to overstate. I was delighted by the attention given to sustainability, about which I should like to say a little more later. I was also delighted to see that real efforts will be made to try to reduce overstretch, but I have doubts about whether that is achievable.

I should like to say something about the Territorial Army. I understand the highly charged and emotional reaction that greeted the significant cuts to the Territorial Army. During the Cold War I was fortunate enough to command a division which had within it a significant number of Territorial Army units and individual reservists. Without their contribution, the Second Infantry Division could not have gone to war.

I think we need to recognise two significant facts. First, there have been major changes, which are well known, to the international security situation. Secondly, the Government made it clear that there was no additional money available for defence--wrong, maybe, but a fact. Given those two factors, significant changes to the Territorial Army were necessary to allow the TA to play a real part in meeting effectively the operational demands likely to be placed upon it in the new security situation. In all of this I recognise the significant contribution made by many individual TA soldiers in places such as Bosnia, Northern Ireland and elsewhere. However, the Territorial Army's ability to provide formed units at short notice is, for understandable reasons, less good, as the experience when we tried to fit them into the tour plot for the Falkland Islands illustrated. I hope that the Government will provide them with the kind of training days that they require and the training support and permanent staff that they need to allow them to take on these difficult and challenging roles.

Even something as successful as the strategic defence review raises certain doubts and questions which will in the end decide whether this was a successful defence review. Perhaps I may touch on a few. As the Minister mentioned, we shall know whether it was a successful review when it is tested in an operational situation. We need to recognise, first, that Britain's Armed Forces are of the highest quality but that they are now very small and have limited scope to undertake independent military action. Secondly, the defence budget is, in Sir Humphrey's famous words, "seriously over-heated" and there must be doubt as to whether the full SDR package can be delivered. Significant savings may have to be made in the forward equipment programme. On top of this, there are the so-called 3 per cent. efficiency savings demanded by the Chancellor, which may well affect operational capability in such areas as training, overstretch and quality of life. This must have a knock-on effect on standards and on retention.

I was interested in what the Minister said about the defence co-operation agreement that was signed between France and Britain. I share some of the concerns touched upon by my noble and gallant friend

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Lord Vincent. I would merely comment that I hope that Europe does not delude itself about its real military capability and does not forget the lessons that we learnt in Bosnia about the inability of the United Nations to provide such things as the strategic direction of a campaign, command and control of operations and real military fighting capability. I hope that this new co-operation agreement, about which the Minister will perhaps tell us more in due course, is more about reality than rhetoric.

I am also delighted that the Government have given such importance to sustainability in the Strategic Defence Review and are taking serious steps to improve it. Sustainability covers a wide field, including having properly manned logistic units, reserves of ammunition, thousands and thousands of spare parts and formed units. My worry is that Options for Change, which did not deliver the smaller but better armed forces that were promised, together with the various cuts that have taken place over a number of years, have resulted in deep cuts to our Armed Forces' sustainability. Noble Lords will remember how much ammunition we had to borrow to support our forces in the Gulf, and that was for only two brigades. I therefore have doubts about whether the defence budget can plug some of these major capability gaps.

My next area of concern is training. Effective training takes time, money and space. Given the operational demands on our Armed Forces and the tightness of the defence budget, there is no doubt that training, particularly for high intensity conflict, is suffering.

Finally, I should like to talk about people, who remain absolutely critical. We have touched on the problems of overstretch and the operational demands now placed upon our forces. Getting the balance right between operational tours of duty, time with family and friends and time on training is critical to retention. I believe that our servicemen and servicewomen have responded magnificently to a whole raft of challenges, but they inevitably feel buffeted, not only by the many reorganisations which they are undergoing but also by the other changes with which they are having to cope. The working time directive, the introduction of a Bill of human rights into British law, which will undoubtedly have an impact on service discipline and the chain of command, and the increased threat of legislation are but a few, and I have mentioned them before in this House. I ask the Minister to recognise that, although what I call short-term morale and spirit are fine, there are too many young, key servicemen and servicewomen, both commissioned and non-commissioned, who are seriously questioning whether they want a long-term career in our Armed Forces. They need a period of stability to regroup.

I have no doubt about the commitment of the Government to our small but very special Armed Forces. However, the armed forces need to feel that they have the wholehearted support of the Government, not just of the Secretary of State for Defence and his ministerial team. In conclusion, on a personal note, I know that defence cannot have a stronger supporter than the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert.

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5.50 p.m.

Lord Vivian: My Lords, I welcome this opportunity to speak in today's defence debate. I congratulate the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent, on his excellent maiden speech. I shall confine my remarks mainly to our future force capabilities, the medical services, including their TA element, military personnel policy and the Territorial Army and cadets.

At the outset I believe that the Strategic Defence Review has been a successful exercise and that the MoD and Chiefs of Staff should be congratulated on producing a review that has clearly studied with great care our future requirements. It has restructured our Navy, Army and Royal Air Force to meet the threats for the next 15 years. At this stage I should like to thank the Minister for keeping me informed of the progress and development of the review during the time that it was being conducted.

However, there are some areas that give me great cause for concern: the Treasury demand for an annual 3 per cent. saving and aid to the civil power in times of national disaster in relation to rogue states who possess weapons of mass destruction. It is in this area where the Territorial Army may have a very great role to play. I query whether the new establishment of the TA is now large enough to be effective in a national disaster role. Some noble Lords have spoken about the TA. I am aware that other noble Lords will speak about reserve forces in some detail. Therefore, I shall be brief. By and large I believe that the TA has been given realistic roles and will be able to train with up-to-date equipment for current operational roles. Although I have noted that some 87 TA centres will be closed, no single TA centre will be shut where there is not another in the same town in which it can be accommodated. The cadet forces have been protected and given some £12 million. The footprint across the country has been preserved. However, there are some concerns and it is still not too late to address them. By and large the TA has been brought up-to-date and will play a more useful part.

I turn for a moment to foreign policy. I am unable to detect any significant changes to existing policies, but the SDR concludes that greater attention is accorded to the Middle East. It has been estimated that 38 countries have ballistic missiles with a range of about 300 kilometres and 14 countries have missiles with a range of some 900 kilometres. In addition to those means of delivery, several countries possess weapons of mass destruction and are in the process of developing them. It is therefore disappointing to note that defence against a threat of this nature has not been addressed more fully or in any detail.

During Options for Change large reductions occurred, with manning levels reduced by 32 per cent. There were even greater reductions in equipment. The SDR imposes further reductions and additions, but these have all been agreed by the Chiefs of Staff. The Royal Navy has lost two further attack submarines, three frigates and three mine warfare vessels, but it has also been given a commitment by the Government that two large aircraft carriers will be built for it in the future. There will be a reduction in manpower of about 1,400 Royal Navy

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personnel. The Army has lost two armoured regiments but the remaining six regiments will now have 58 tanks each. The two regiments that have lost their armoured role will convert to an armoured reconnaissance regiment and an NBC monitoring regiment. The number of equipment support battalions and Royal Logistic Corps regiments has each increased from six to seven and Army manpower has been increased by 3,300 personnel. The RAF has lost 13 air defence aircraft, 23 offensive air support aircraft and one Rapier squadron but has gained four heavy airlift aircraft.

The greatest concern within the Armed Forces is overcommitment within the current composition and structure of the services which leads to overstretch. That is one of the main reasons for servicemen and women leaving early. The SDR does not bring any reduction in commitments. It has been agreed that the Armed Forces will continue to be trained for high intensity operations and to fight major conflicts. The SDR has restructured the Royal Navy, Army and RAF to ensure less overstretch. Among the measures taken by the Royal Navy to achieve this has been a much more flexible approach to programming ships and submarines to match their commitments and resources. Overstretch will be reduced by changing the deployment of frigates, destroyers and the attack submarine programme which will ease the strain on the fleet.

The measure taken by the Army to reduce overstretch is to base its force structure on manoeuvre and flexibility with two deployable divisions, one in UK and the second in Germany. The divisions will be equally balanced and have three brigades each. To achieve this a sixth brigade will be formed. In addition an air manoeuvre brigade will be created. This new force structure will enable the Ministry of Defence to undertake concurrently two brigade operations: one a relatively short war-fighting deployment and the other an enduring non-war-fighting operation, including fullscale operations. Providing the system can be made to work it should reduce separation of families, assist with retention in the Army, establish stability and prevent skill fade in a unit's primary role. The three services that have been restructured for expeditionary conflict will continue to train for war-fighting and by this reorganisation should reduce overstretch and improve retention and recruiting. The new concept of "Jointery" should secure a more efficient use of resources.

I turn to the medical services. In previous debates many of your Lordships have been most concerned that they have been reduced too much and would not be able to provide the necessary support in a major conflict. I have to declare an interest as I am honorary Colonel to 306 Field Hospital. The SDR concludes that

    "we are committed to restoring operational medical capability to the required level as soon as possible, and a major investment will be made to achieve it".
These are very welcome words. It also concludes that a number of improvements would be made to address personnel and equipment shortfalls, provide a 200-bed hospital ship, with a second one on contract if required, ensure that additional hospital beds would be made available and enhance the Army's regular ambulance

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evacuation capability. All of these proposals are most welcome, including the addition of 2,000 Territorial Army posts to enhance this important service which would have an important role to play in any large conflict. However, here there is a matter of grave concern because out of the so-called 2,000 additional posts 1,222 have been lost. This loss is made up of a recent arbitrary cut of 476, a further reduction of 270 to be transferred to the non-regular permanent staff and 476 to be trained as combat medical technicians and held against the Royal Army Medical Corps Territorial Army establishment. In reality they will be the bandsmen of the yeomanry and infantry regiments.

The story gets worse as it has been decided to disband the TA RAMC band--the only band that it has--consisting of some 50 combat medical technicians. That must be a bitter pill to swallow when it has just been robbed of 476 TA posts for other Territorial Army bands. This is a most unrealistic, ridiculous and absurd arrangement without any logic. Furthermore, it will not be possible to sustain it and it will be a cause for plummeting morale just at the time when new recruits at all levels are required. I ask the Minister to reverse these decisions. Perhaps he could explain in any event why there has been this arbitrary cut in posts.

Some of your Lordships will recall from the defence group visit that we found that the Royal Hospital Haslar, the only military hospital, was located in the wrong place for the Services; was understaffed; had insufficient patients; and was costing an exorbitant amount of money. Furthermore, the wrong decision was taken to move the Royal Army Medical Corps training college from Millbank to Gosport, so that it could be close to the one and only military hospital. The future of Haslar is not known, but one possibility is that it could be closed and another Ministry of Defence health unit established in a National Health Service Hospital. If that is the course of action taken, I ask the Minister to ensure that a centre of medical excellence be created to cover military surgeons, anaesthetists, accident and emergency and other skills; and this new centre should be preferably close to London. That would enable eminent civilian physicians and surgeons to advise and visit this military centre of excellence. In fact, I can see no reason why this new centre of excellence could not be located on the present Millbank site.

The nation is proud and grateful to our Armed Forces who are well equipped and extremely well trained, but they are under-recruited, overstretched and with too much family separation, which leads to lower retention rates and high divorce rates. The Armed Forces will not continue to be so professional and efficient unless the right type of people are attracted to them. In this context the emphasis placed on a "policy for people" was timely and apt and right to have been a key part of the review. It is essential that the measures proposed to provide better terms and conditions of service; improvements in pay and allowances and pension terms; better quality of training; allowing service beyond the 22-year point; providing better education and opportunities to gain civilian recognised qualifications during their service; and the other policy proposals are all implemented with the utmost urgency. As soon as that occurs, recruiting

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will improve even more than it recently has done and retention rates will go up. These are some of the factors that will reduce overstretch.

There is an area which is of serious and grave concern resulting from the Human Rights Act affecting service discipline. This was raised previously in your Lordships' House and, as far as I can recall, we were led to believe that we were worrying unnecessarily about the possibility of undermining the powers of a commanding officer. The fact of the matter is that it is now a subject of major concern to the services, as a commanding officer may have his powers severely restricted when dealing with disciplinary matters and this may debase the special ethos so vital to the Armed Forces. It is further understood that because of the Human Rights Act there are now difficulties over premature arrests and investigations by the Royal Military Police. I would be most grateful to the Minister if he would clarify the matter and let your Lordships know where the situation stands at the moment.

The successful outcome of the Strategic Defence Review depends on when the conclusions and recommendations will be implemented. It would be helpful if a schedule were published showing the timeframe when the recommendations of this report would be achieved. The report is not convincing about the urgency which is required for implementation of new personnel policies. If these recommendations are not seen to be forthcoming very soon by the Armed Forces, undermanning and overstretch will continue. This review, as always, is highly sensitive and vulnerable to the defence budget and it is essential that short-term financial goals are not achieved at the expense of capabilities critical to the overall strategy. Any proposals for further cuts in real terms below the third year base line could cause the whole strategy to unwind and if any significant aspect ceases to occur on time the whole structure could fall apart. On balance, this is an excellent Strategic Defence Review and commanders at all levels must continue to explain the forthcoming benefits of this review to our loyal, courageous, professional and hardworking servicemen and women to whom the nation is always indebted.

6.4 p.m.

Lord Carver: My Lords, like other noble Lords, I congratulate my noble and gallant friend Lord Vincent of Coleshill on his maiden speech. Like him and my other noble and gallant friend Lord Inge, I in general consider the review to be a good, sensible document, and that despite a liberal sprinkling of those pious platitudes which the civil servants at the Ministry of Defence are so skilled in concocting. I also believe that most of the decisions about the future of the Armed Forces that the review contains are sensible in the light of the fundamental transformation that has taken place in the probable defence tasks that we face.

The most important transformation, in comparison to the time when I became Chief of the Defence Staff a quarter of a century ago--rather a long time ago--is that then we were irrevocably committed to a series of emergency defence plans in NATO, CENTO and

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SEATO to specific force targets. Today the Government are free to choose how much, when and what they are committed to. I appeal to them not to over-commit the forces for the sake of this curious policy called "punching above your weight".

I shall confine my remarks to only a few aspects of the review. I welcome the review's transparency about numbers of nuclear weapons, the missiles to deliver them and stocks of fissile material. I should like to see the Government press other nuclear powers to follow their example in this respect. I also welcome the reduction in the planned number of what it calls "operationally available warheads" and "missile bodies", and the announcement that submarine missiles will normally be, "at several days' notice to fire".

I welcome too the greater honesty in paragraph 74 about the costs of the programme. But while welcoming all this, I must stress that it makes no difference to my belief that we do not need such a system and that it would both save money and help to discourage proliferation if we gave it up. In fact, the reductions and change in alert status merely highlight the basic illogicality of the whole policy. The sole attempt to justify its strategic basis is in paragraph 60 of the review which merely states:

    "Our minimum deterrent remains a necessary element of our security".
The statements made in paragraphs 4 and 7 of supporting essay five on the subject add nothing significant to that.

In the debate on the Address on 26th November, the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, intoned the traditional mantras about why the Government believe our nuclear weapons to be necessary. As he is a trustee of the Council of Arms Control, I hope that he has read the article in its most recent bulletin by the vice-chairman, General Sir Hugh Beach, which effectively demolishes those arguments. If he has not read it, I suggest that he does so. So much for nuclear weapons.

I next turn to the reserve forces. I fully support the measures that the Government are taking to reorganise the Territorial Army and give it a relevant and realistic purpose. It has long been clear to me that, with the exception of certain logistic and medical units, units at regimental or battalion strength were never going to be employed as such; and that the real need was to make it possible for members, or possibly sub-units, of the TA to be able to reinforce regular units, preferably on a voluntary basis. It is absolutely right that in the Territorial Army, with the exception of certain logistic and medical units, the squadron, battery or company should be considered as the basic unit in which local or historical traditions should, as far as possible, be retained.

I have great sympathy for the problem so eloquently explained by the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, particularly because when I commanded 4th Armoured Brigade in the whole of the north-west Europe campaign in the Second World War, one of my regiments was the 44th Royal Tank Regiment, which was a Bristol-based TA regiment.

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However, if the TA is to be reduced--as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Inge, said, it has to be reduced as the requirement is reduced--there are two ways to set about that inevitable dispersion over the country. One is to do more or less what has been done: to try to retain some presence almost everywhere. The other is to concentrate the Territorial Army on major population centres. I am certain that that would raise just as many objections as were raised by those who have been affected by dispersion. Having been closely involved in reorganising the Army's voluntary reserves, including the TA, over 30 years ago I know that one has to struggle against the serried ranks of local interests and conservatives (with both a large and small "c") to meet the real need. When Richard Haldane was trying to form the territorial force out of the yeomanry volunteers and militia 90 years ago he met with exactly the same resistance--and nowhere more strongly than in this House. I congratulate the Government on having firmly, and, I believe, fairly, grasped this nettle.

My next point is what is known as "jointery": arrangements to make the three services act together or share training facilities. The remarkable advances in electronics in every form, both in friendly forces and potentially hostile ones--in communications, navigation and many different aspects of weapon systems--mean that where all three forces are involved in the same operation or area they must act together. But I should add a word of caution. The review makes clear that it is unlikely that in any serious military operations our own three Armed Forces together would be acting alone, as they did in the Falklands, and certainly not for any great length of time. The Army and the RAF may often act together. Indeed, future developments in technology may make it sensible for them to be integrated to a greater degree than the review suggests; and the RAF and the Royal Navy may act together when the Navy is within range of shore-based aircraft. In that case also future developments in technology are likely to force a greater degree of integration between ships at sea and land-based aircraft supporting them. But occasions when the Army and the Royal Navy act closely together will be rare and of short duration.

More likely than any of those scenarios is one in which we shall be acting with allies, each service fighting alongside the same service of other nations, most probably and most importantly with those of the United States. The ability of each service to operate with, and probably under the command of, United States forces is of higher priority than integrating closely on a tri-service basis by ourselves. A high technology gap is rapidly widening between US forces and our own which threatens our ability to co-operate with or serve under them. Closing that gap is of great importance and will be expensive.

I have another word of warning. It is about the proposal in paragraph 194 to set a target of a 3 per cent. annual saving in operating costs over the next four years on top of the other measures designed to reduce expenditure. That must not be allowed to undermine the resources promised to the forces under the review or to force other changes. A very close watch needs to be kept to ensure that that does not take place. I hope that the

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Minister will be able to give us an assurance on this matter. There are already some disturbing signs that it is threatened.

As the Minister stated, there is to be a NATO summit next April on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the treaty which formed the North Atlantic Alliance. The meeting is due to consider a new strategic concept. What will be the Government's attitude towards pressure from the United States to formalise a military role for the alliance outside its present boundaries? It is a difficult matter. I hope that the government attitude towards it will be favourable. What will be their attitude to further enlargement? Do the Government still believe what was stated in paragraph 38 of the review: that the admission of the three new members is,

    "a welcome first step in a carefully managed process of enlargement which will strengthen both the Alliance itself and European security as a whole"?
I hope that the rumours I have heard are true: that both the American Government and our Government are having second thoughts about further enlargement. I hope that the Minister can give us answers to those important questions.

Finally, I welcome the moves which the Government are considering, of which there was no hint in the review, to make a reality of a European defence identity in which we, Germany and France would take the lead. I have long advocated that, and I hope that the Government will put real and imaginative effort behind it. I noted with care the remarks that the noble Lord, Lord Owen, made on this subject in the debate on the Address. He expressed himself strongly opposed to the establishment of any new organisation, in particular if it were to have any link with the European Parliament; and he favoured a strengthening of the Western European Union. I agree with his first point but not his second. WEU has existed in a sort of limbo since the formation of the North Atlantic Alliance. In the past few years attempts have been made to breathe some life into it, largely in order to avoid any move towards an organisation linked with the European Union. But the right answer is not to try to resuscitate it but to wind it up.

On a number of occasions, both in this House and elsewhere, I have put forward my own solution. I do so again as briefly as I can. It is that the North Atlantic Alliance's military organisation, NATO, should be radically transformed so that it consists of three elements: first, the United States forces assigned to the alliance, straightforwardly--it is only recognising reality--under their own national command; and, secondly, a more or less integrated European military command and training organisation within the alliance, not separate like the WEU. Britain, France and Germany must be members of it and any other members of the alliance who wished could join. It should be capable of commanding operations either under American command or independently. The third element would be those members of the alliance who did not wish to assign their forces permanently to this organisation but who could do so for any operation in which they wished to participate. Adoption of that solution would make it possible to abolish NATO's huge bureaucratic

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headquarter staffs which are bound to grow if the alliance is enlarged and NATO, as the military organisation, remains in its present pattern. We do not want to create a new organisation outside the alliance, as seemed to be indicated by some of the comments from the recent Anglo-French meeting at St. Malo. If the transformation I have proposed were to be adopted, most of my objections to enlargement would dissolve, particularly if it were accompanied by the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone from the eastern borders of Germany to the western ones of Russia.

Apart from their general intention, it is not at all clear to me what the Government have in mind as a formal structure for a European defence identity. Bilateral agreements with the French are not enough. I therefore offer the Government my solution, with the compliments of the season.

6.18 p.m.

Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, this debate and previous exchanges in the House seem to demonstrate that the SDR commands considerable respect--rather more than the prospect of the review was afforded in the previous Parliament. It commands respect because it is justified; and it is justified largely because it is realistic. It is realistic because it recognises the fact that in this world there is insecurity, barbarism, horror and great instability. That has been the case since the end of the Cold War brought an intensification of regional rivalries and other uncertainties. During that period, British servicemen and servicewomen were heavily involved. Clearly, Her Majesty's Government expect that as crises, difficulties and disasters occur British service personnel will continue to be involved. Perhaps they will be involved on a scale which is inequitable in comparison with the contribution provided by other members of the alliance.

The SDR recognises those needs, but there are social and disciplinary difficulties, referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Vivian. I am an amateur student of military history. It reminded me that on the morning before the Charge of the Light Brigade the general commanding ordered three troopers to be flogged for smoking in their lines. One of them was flogged after the charge. No doubt in the years which followed, Members spoke in this House in order to make military discipline more humane. But people might have asked, "What will the Army come to if generals do not have the freedom to act with a degree of arbitrariness?". I do not suggest that noble Lords who reached eminent rank in the Army would wish to see the return of the days of that particular general. We are seeing the Ministry and the services recognise that they can and will happily adapt to the new requirements which a more civilised society, rightly or wrongly, has placed upon them.

At least the debate will continue in this House and in Europe. There has been, and there will be, no lack of debate in Europe. An unfortunate aspect is that politicians from the countries which do little will continue to say a great deal. They will happily seize upon the suggestions made in the debate, not least from the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Carver, about the

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future structure of European security. I listened with great interest because I took part in many debates on these matters in the WEU. On occasion one felt considerable irritation.

I shall not repeat a fairly long passage of a speech that I made in this House shortly after my introduction, when I described my horror at the sheer triumphalism of the debates in the WEU. The triumphalism was most expressed by parliamentarians from countries which had made no contribution. It was rather odious, in particular as some of us felt that the Gulf War ended a little too soon. Perhaps subsequent events have justified that view.

However, there is a difference now. No doubt it was a matter of relief to my noble friend Lady Symons at Question Time last week when she said that our partners in Europe appeared to have no objection to British involvement in the Gulf. That may represent a considerable step forward, but it does not give us a great deal of hope that there will be urgent improvement in a sense of commitment.

Although I criticise the WEU, I believe that it can be and should be an essential part of the European security structure. It needs to be improved. The parliamentary assembly needs to be far more willing to discard the posture of tamed docility in response to Ministers speaking on behalf of or to the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers should be far more willing to look at the detail rather than providing fine sounding statements every couple of years. The office of the Secretary General needs to be a great deal more robust. We must not have the situation that I encountered when I was told by the Secretary General that members of the parliamentary assembly can ask questions only about those forces under the control of WEU. It does not take a great knowledge of the organisation for noble Lords to be aware that the WEU has commanded little in the way of resources before the Armilla Patrol and not all that much since. The organisation needs to be made more meaningful.

I say that because I have real anxiety about the call to transfer the responsibility for foreign and security policy to Brussels. I am not critical of Brussels--I believe that Europe must develop and emerge--but Europe has a lot on its plate. I wonder at what point in its scale of priorities security and defence might be placed. The Commission has long been interested and involved in and sought responsibility for industrial matters. Yet we have a grossly unsatisfactory situation within the European defence industry. We find our partners complaining about a one-way street. It is not a one-way street. The Americans would be justified in complaining if we sought to divert traffic upon it, given the scale of their investment and the efforts which America has made in largely securing the consolidation of its defence industry. The steps towards achieving that consolidation in Europe have been too halting and too much delayed.

One could exempt the United Kingdom from many of the strictures that one could offer on that matter. British Aerospace is now the largest of the European companies, although not quite to the standard or scale

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of the American titan. But as a result of investment and skilled operation it has emerged as the leading player in the defence industry scene within Europe. National interests, hesitation and inadequate prioritisation have left the European industry in a less competitive state than the American giant which invested a great deal.

My noble friend, who is far more expert in these matters than I, may wish to comment on some aspects of the present and developing state of co-operation within the European defence industry. He may be able to comment on the Eurofighter--or the Typhoon, as it is now called--and tell us, as it is an extremely important development, a little about its commercial prospects.

It might also be appropriate for us to look ahead as well as at recent events. There is a great deal of concern and interest in the next generation of military aircraft; in the fighter and strike aircraft which will emerge in the next century. Are we to see adequate European and transatlantic co-operation in these fields? Is it possible to say when public debate, because public debate there must be, can reasonably begin on these matters? It may also be appropriate for my noble friend to refer to the future role of unmanned vehicles and aircraft.

I and a number of noble Lords, some of whom are or were present in the Chamber, recently visited the British Army in Germany. It was a most impressive visit. If I left with one anxiety it was that we are seeing, and quite properly, the deployment of large numbers of strike helicopters. But it is equally obvious that the Royal Regiment of Artillery and presumably other artillery units in other countries are also developing an increasing capacity to respond to the strike helicopter. Whether they can respond to the faster ground attack aircraft such as the Harrier is doubtful at this stage. But one should understand that human ingenuity is considerable and the strike helicopter may receive a ready response by the development of new modern anti-aircraft capacity.

I do not want to stray far because I wish to make two or three other points. First, I and many other noble Lords will be happy when our servicemen can once again walk about in uniform. I am not at all convinced that the general public in this country are fully aware of the quality and existence of our service people. It is all very well having military soaps which may be interesting on television, but really our public coverage of the work and role of our Armed Forces is grossly inadequate.

During the Gulf War, I spent a good deal of time in Paris, attending a series of WEU committees. Each time I went back to my hotel and switched on the television, you could have sworn that no one else was involved in the Gulf War except our friends, the French. And yet, if one watched television in England, you were more likely to see an F-18 flying than a Tornado. You were more likely to see American personnel. That is quite right because they provided the great bulk of the forces, although one would not have deduced that from the French experience.

However, people should be aware of the service given and the achievements made. For example, I doubt whether 1 per cent. of the people of this country are aware of the contribution which Royal Air Force aircraft made in the airstrikes which compelled the Serbs to

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reach the Dayton Accord. And yet, those particular missions were of enormous importance for they demonstrated beyond doubt that it was possible to deliver the smart bombs with absolute precision, something which had never until recent years been available to anybody's air force. I accept that the Cruise missile may have the same degree of accuracy, but my noble friend may be able to confirm that it costs 20 times as much as a bomb which could achieve the same purpose.

We need to see people in uniform and we need to promote an understanding, awareness and appreciation which our services should command. That is particularly important if we are to ensure that the future reserves not merely recruit but retain. It is of considerable importance because the retention rate in many TA units--and no noble Lord has mentioned it--was quite deplorable.

My final point is that as a boy, before I joined the Royal Air Force, I was in the Air Training Corps for three or four years. I found it extremely enjoyable, and since I left the other place I have been delighted to be linked again with the Air Training Corps. I am president of our squadron in the Rotherham area in South Yorkshire. There I meet keen, healthy, concerned and active young people who are responding to challenges and seizing opportunities in a way which I find is quite delightful. In our local newspapers, we see too much of crime, drugs and the irresponsibility of some of our youngsters. Those in the cadet organisations--and I have seen something, too, of the Army cadets in recent months--are doing a great deal. I hope that any committed territorial who now finds his unit weakened, reduced or based many miles away--as the noble Lord, Lord Cope explained in describing the South West--will be brought in to work with the cadet organisations.

We need to see more adult voluntary commitment and involvement, not merely in the cadet forces but the same applies across the whole area of youth organisations in this country. The cadet organisations are doing a great deal. Obviously, many of the cadets will provide first-class servicemen when they become older. But the contribution to the community is much wider than that. I hope that that contribution can be continued and, indeed, enhanced. I was particularly grateful that the cadet organisations in my area can look forward to the future rather than face the anxiety which they may have felt before the SDR. In my view, that part of the SDR is extremely important. Perhaps I may say that among the people involved in our local Air Training Corps, there is a great deal of gratitude.

6.33 p.m.

Lord Monro of Langholm: My Lords, after such a galaxy of five-star generals, we are now reduced to a one-star air commodore. Immediately, I begin my remarks by congratulating the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent, on a very fine maiden speech. I believe that the noble and gallant Lord and the noble and gallant Lords, Lord Carver and Lord Inge, were hinting diplomatically that they hoped that we should stay much

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closer to NATO rather than the European Union in relation to defence. I am sure that that message will be taken up by the Minister when he winds up the debate.

With Options for Change, the Royal Air Force took a severe knock, as indeed did the other services. In line with that, equal pain was prevalent within the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, of which I happen to be the honorary inspector-general and have been for some years. We lost four defence force flights and three squadrons, including the two which had the Oerliken guns which we had captured in the Falklands, and two wing headquarters. Since then, there have been years of steady development. The RAF realises that the auxiliaries are well-trained, efficient and part of the line of battle and, most important, are cost effective.

Therefore, we faced the SDR with a great deal of confidence and that was certainly not misplaced, with an increase of 10 per cent. in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force as proposed in the announcement made recently by the Minister. We are now able to develop the Royal Support Squadrons. I visited the Helicopter Support Squadron on the Isle of Wight recently and was impressed not only with the training facilities but also with the squadron itself. There is also the Air Transportable Surgical Squadron. The noble Lord, Lord Vivian, will be interested to know, because he was talking about medical support, that we have very long waiting lists for our two medical squadrons. There are many consultants queuing up to join and, I believe, even moving their practices from England to Scotland so that they can join the squadron there at Leuchars. That demonstrates that there are many senior and highly-qualified doctors anxious to serve their country if the facilities are right for them. In addition, we have two training squadrons developed over recent years.

In 1997, there was the significant and welcome amalgamation between the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force into the single Royal Auxiliary Air Force. That added to our strength with two intelligence squadrons, a photo-interpretation squadron, a PR squadron, and a met. squadron. Many individuals from those squadrons have been providing extremely valuable service in Bosnia. I am glad to say that we have not only had strong support from Ministers, and in particular from the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, but we have had support also from the Chief of Air Staff, Sir Richard Johns, and the Air Force Board.

All those auxiliaries are active volunteers. They must not be mistaken for the full-time reservists or, indeed, the many ex-regulars who appear on the computers but not on the parade ground. I am glad to say that the flying training programme has been going very well indeed. We have air crew and helicopters. We have a Hercules and now, at last, some fast jets as well. They bring back memories of the 21 flying squadrons that we had up to 1957 and the 16 squadrons which behaved so heroically during the Battle of Britain.

So it is good news that I am reporting to the Minister and I am grateful to him for the help that he has given since he took up his post.

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However, there are two issues which I ask him to consider this evening and perhaps he will write to me about them as soon as he can. I know that the Royal Air Force is going through a strategic manpower review as part of the total force concept. A moratorium has been placed on our Royal Support Squadrons in relation to recruiting and training. A solution must be reached quickly because those volunteers do not wish to sit there marking time and wondering what is to happen to them in the future. I hope that we may be given approval to go ahead in the very near future so that we can proceed again with recruitment and the full training programme and know exactly where we are going.

Secondly, I wish to talk about the ethos of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. There seems to be an impression in the Ministry of Defence, and perhaps elsewhere, that auxiliaries will be called out only in a major conflict. That is wrong. We would not be called out for short-notice operations or on humanitarian tasks. When a Royal Auxiliary Air Force serviceman or service woman joins up and signs on, they give that right for immediate call-up and are operationally trained to fulfil any role. It is important that it should be appreciated by Ministers in the Ministry of Defence that they are ready to go anywhere at the drop of a hat.

There are good procedures for when an individual is not able to go. For instance, when we sent two squadrons to the Gulf only two members were not able to go--for very good reasons; they had university final exams a few weeks ahead and were granted leave of absence. The Gulf conflict showed how effective the squadrons could be, particularly the movement squadron 4624 which did so much in the way of loading aircraft in this country and abroad.

Therefore I hope that the Minister can give me an assurance that the Royal Auxiliary Air Force will be called out for any operations for which their services are required. If we do not do that--this was prevalent after the Gulf conflict--not only will those auxiliaries who are not called out feel aggrieved that they were overlooked, but their employers will say, "We allowed these servicemen leave for 14 days continuous training, weekends and so forth, yet when a conflict arises such as that in the Gulf, they are not wanted". That is a wrong impression to give employers. I know NELC worked on this and we want to make sure that it does not happen again.

As I said earlier, we are the first line of reserve to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and we want to remain that way. We have a high retention rate. Many members of squadrons in the Royal Auxiliary Air Force have served 10, 15 or more years. That is good for recruiting and for promoting and it brings stability. We want stability and we want to have confidence that there will be no more changes in the future.

My message to the Minister therefore as we approach the year of our 75th anniversary is that the Royal Auxiliary Air Force is in very good heart and pleased at the way things are going at the moment. But I want to make two or three quick points on a broader front. First, I read in the newspaper at the weekend that there was further talk about the air-sea rescue service being taken

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from the Royal Air Force and given to the coastguard or privatised. That would be a retrograde step. The reputation of the Royal Air Force in search and rescue is enormous. All of us, particularly in Scotland where there is so much mountain rescue as well as sea-borne rescue, feel that it would be a great loss to public confidence if the Royal Air Force ceased to be in the lead. That is no criticism of the coastguard which does a very good job with helicopters itself.

Secondly, I know the Minister is being cautious to get it right in relation to TAVRA. It is important to us in the Royal Auxiliary. We receive tremendous support from the vice-chairman and her organisation. I know it is a tri-service, but people tend to think it is just an Army organisation. It looks after the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Reserves as well. I hope the Minister will look carefully at the geographical changes in mind for TAVRA so that it comes out in the best way for all those who are interested in it.

I join with the noble Lord, Lord Hardy of Wath, in saying "Well done" on behalf of the cadets. All their headquarters are being retained and from my enquiries I understand that they can count on the full flying programme in the future. It is an important incentive to allow the Royal Air Training Corps cadets to fly each year with the Royal Air Force. I believe too that the Government are right to support the Army and Navy cadets which do so much along with the Air Training Corps for outward-bound activities and all the aspects mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hardy. We want to make certain that that continues in the future.

Finally, like the noble Lord, Lord Cope, I was concerned with my area which I represented for a long time in the House of Commons. It ran from Berwick to Stranraer--240 miles--and had one platoon and one company. It seemed a huge distance for whoever was doing the training, but at least they managed to retain the headquarters in Dumfries, to be shared with the cadets of the three services. By and large I give the Minister support for what is achieved in the review, even though it may have left many unhappy people in the Territorial Army. I am sure that at the end of the day many of those problems will be resolved and it may not then be as bad as it seems.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Chalfont: My Lords, I wish to add my congratulations to my noble and gallant friend Lord Vincent on his excellent maiden speech. The good sense and thoughtful nature of his comments will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his distinguished military career. Perhaps I may say also at this point that the House is fortunate to benefit from the views of two other noble and gallant Field Marshals who have spoken this evening and who add so much to the debates of this House on military subjects.

I want to concentrate my few brief remarks today on a subject which is crucial to any defence policy (the noble Lord, Lord Vivian, mentioned this in passing) but to which we are not giving sufficiently high priority; that is, the question of missile defence both in a national

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context and in the context, perhaps more importantly, of the security of our armed forces when they are operating overseas.

The Strategic Defence Review was, in my view and that of other noble Lords, a courageous and constructive blueprint for creating defence forces appropriate to the new strategic environment. It is possible to have reservations about the detail of any review--for instance, the wisdom of substantial cuts in our reserve forces which have already received considerable attention this evening. But, more importantly, the Select Committee on Defence in another place warned us that the,

    "Strategic Defence Review was very finely balanced"--
which indeed it is. But more significantly, it went on to criticise the SDR for failing adequately to consider the need for ballistic missile defence systems,

    "to protect expeditionary forces and the UK mainland".
It is that concern which I want to underline and highlight today. In the Strategic Defence Review that matter received only one brief mention and that was in one of the excellent supporting essays that came with the review.

The Strategic Defence Review moved this country towards the concept of expeditionary force structures allowing a greater freedom of action in a wider range of theatres around the globe. Indeed, the Secretary for Defence said in his introduction to the Strategic Defence Review

    "In the post Cold War world we must be prepared to go to the crisis rather than have the crisis come to us".
But if the Gulf War taught us anything, it was that any future expeditionary force of that kind might well come under crippling attack from missiles, ballistic or otherwise, possibly armed with warheads of mass destruction--chemical, biological or even nuclear. That threat has been described on so many occasions that it is otiose to repeat it in detail. The best recent analysis for those who wish to go into it more deeply is a document called the Fundamental Issue Study, written and edited by Professor Neville Brown, which was published in February of this year. But that was a dense and closely argued document.

It is enough for the purposes of this debate to underline the fact that in 1995 the United States Central Intelligence Agency estimated that at least 20 countries had or may be developing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile delivery systems. Of those, North Korea, Iran, Iraq and Libya already possessed, or may have been developing, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems which could threaten the security of any of our expeditionary forces operating in any future conflict. If they continue to develop such systems, they could in due course threaten our own national territory or at least that of our allies.

As recently as 17th November this year, thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, and the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, the Ministry of Defence issued a document which was an assessment of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons stockpiles. I remind noble Lords that those stockpiles, together with the Scud missiles which the Iraqis possessed, inflicted more than 20,000 casualties

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in the war with Iran. It is therefore vital that we should examine, with some urgency, a means of defending any British expeditionary force against a threat of that kind. I do not think that it is too early to ask ourselves whether we need to contemplate the possibility of a national missile defence system. I know that that would be prohibitively and cripplingly expensive, but it may well be necessary in any future conflict with what has already been described as a "rogue state".

Before I leave the subject of Iraq and the paper on that country's weapons of mass destruction, can the Minister in his reply tell the House anything about what is happening at the military installation at Ibn Al Haitham near Baghdad? He will know that that missile plant has recently been substantially expanded and might well be--indeed, according to some intelligence reports, already is--producing longer-range missiles than those which Iraq has possessed in the past. Have the UN inspectors been given any access to that installation? If so, what have they found? It would be enlightening if the Minister could say a word about that when he replies.

Perhaps I may say a word on the nuclear striking force. I congratulate the Government on the firmness but flexibility of their policy towards our nuclear deterrent. As the Strategic Defence Review states, that is an essential element of our national security. As the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, recently stated in this House, it may have to be used in extreme circumstances of self-defence, which includes the defence of our NATO allies. Perhaps I may say with the greatest of respect to my noble and gallant friend Lord Carver that I think that far from demolishing the Government's case, the views of General Sir Hugh Beach in the latest issue of the Bulletin of Arms Control go a long way to underline its strength. Perhaps my noble and gallant friend and I can take up that argument at some future date.

I see that the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, is no longer in his place, but I think that it is worth saying, for the record, that I too was in the Far East when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Our intelligence estimates at that time indicated to us that if we had to invade Japan in order to bring the war to an end, hundreds of thousands of allied soldiers, sailors and airmen would have been killed. That invasion was made unnecessary by the use of the atom bomb. Whatever others may say, I have no difficulty at all in deciding in which direction my moral and ethical judgments lie on that argument.

I move away from the question of the nuclear deterrent because, for the purpose of defending our expeditionary forces, the threat of retaliation by use of the nuclear deterrent is not relevant. The question has already been put by an American analyst in the following form--and I hope that it is one that our military planners have asked themselves:

    "Suppose that a ballistic missile with an anthrax warhead were fired at our armed forces in an expeditionary operation, is it credible that we would be willing to turn Baghdad into the next Hiroshima in retaliation?"

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The answer must be perfectly obvious to anyone. There is surely only one alternative: the need for ballistic missile defence to prevent our forces being destroyed by such a potential enemy.

The need for such defence has already had a wide measure of endorsement. In October, the United States announced that it had allocated an additional 1 billion dollars to step up the development of its theatre and national missile defence systems. It was announced only last week that the Ballistic Missile Defence Office in the United States was analysing potential sites across the country for its own national missile defence system. Meanwhile, it has been announced that Japan has agreed to join the USA in a joint research programme on theatre missile defence. Earlier this month a memorandum was signed by the United States and Israel aimed at strengthening Israel's defence against the threat of long-range missiles and non-conventional weapons. The United States is fully committed to a programme known as the Theatre High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) which is conceived principally for defence in overseas tactical situations rather than for national defence. Finally, there is the Medium Extended Air Defence System (MEADS) in which the United States, Germany and Italy plan together to develop a mobile defence system capable of intercepting and destroying theatre ballistic and, indeed, cruise missiles. Attempts to persuade the United Kingdom to join that system have so far been in vain.

In the Strategic Defence Review, that whole vital question was relegated to virtually one sentence. The Government have said that it would now be premature to decide to acquire a ballistic missile defence capability. However, the Ministry of Defence has committed itself to monitoring the threat, participating in NATO studies and working closely with our allies. That is most encouraging and those are unexceptionable sentiments. It is certainly of vital importance in working out a ballistic missile defence policy of the kind I regard as essential to proceed on an alliance basis. I should like to ask the Minister whether we are not being a little too cautious and conservative about that, if I may use that word. The three-year programme which the Government have undertaken on technology readiness and risk assessment is one way of approaching the problem, but does the Minister agree that it may well be overtaken by events?

Finally, apart from the important matter of the security of our expeditionary forces, which is at the heart of this imaginative and constructive Strategic Defence Review, there is also the important matter of the security of Europe. Planning staff in the German defence ministry published a paper as long ago as 1990 which contained the following sentence:

    "A strengthened deployment of missile defence capabilities against the potential threat of Third Countries is in the interest of global stability and is preventive protection against new threats to all the states of Europe".
I should be grateful to know whether the Government agree with that assessment and whether they are content that the UK, almost alone among the major powers of

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the Atlantic alliance, should have only what seems to be a watching brief in one of the vital strategic issues of the post-Cold War world.

6.58 p.m.

Baroness Cox: My Lords, I offer my contribution with considerable trepidation as I have no military background whatever. However, I want to focus on the Defence Medical Services for two reasons. The first arises from my professional background as a nurse. Because of that I inevitably hear many and repeated expressions of concern from both nursing and medical colleagues. The second reason stems from the specific reference made to the problems of the DMS by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, in his contribution to the debate on the Address. The contributions of the noble and gallant Lord are, of course, always highly significant and immensely powerful. I was therefore especially concerned when he drew parallels between the Territorial Army and the DMS, fearing that the stuffing would be knocked out of the TA,

    "just as the last government, despite warning after warning, also with plans hatched in the Ministry of Defence, justified with exactly the same exhortations about modernisation and relevance in the modern world, virtually destroyed the Armed Forces' Medical Services with disastrous consequences which this Government are now desperately trying to tackle".--[Official Report, 26/11/98; col. 148.]
I am reassured that the noble and gallant Lord believes that this Government are now trying to tackle the problems besetting the DMS. I was also pleased to hear the Minister refer in his opening speech to some of the initiatives already under way, some of which are identified in the SDR.

However, my noble friend Lord Vivian has highlighted some continuing concerns about the DMS. I have to say that there does not seem to be much sign that the proposed initiatives are yet having any significant effects on the men and women now in these services--perhaps I should say "still in these services". Many have left or are leaving, disillusioned and demoralised. One medical officer said to me only last week, "If the situation continues as bad as it is, you won't be having this debate on the DMS much longer, as they will have ceased to exist." Just two days ago, another medical officer reeled off a list of names of several colleagues who have either just given notice or are about to do so. I was also told that a senior executive officer working within the DMS recently claimed that it would take only three or four more consultants to leave for the medical service to implode.

Those are just a few examples of a disturbingly large number of representations I have received, all reflecting acute concern at the implications of the current situation for those still in post, and, more seriously for the future, fears that the capacity to maintain a viable medical service will be so diminished that our Armed Forces will not have the medical back-up they need to provide essential support in the event of future conflict.

Your Lordships will be well aware that those engaged in action must have confidence that, in the event of injury, they will receive immediate and comprehensive treatment. The knowledge that this treatment is available

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is vital to the morale of fighting forces. It must be a national priority to ensure that those who risk life and health in active service are entitled to the highest possible quality of medical and nursing care.

In addition, in keeping with the Government's commitment to an "ethical foreign policy" and their increasing commitment to the work of the United Nations, this "support service" is being required to make a major contribution to the peacekeeping and aid operations which are increasingly occupying service personnel.

Some of the major concerns relating to the DMS are interrelated: the recruitment and retention of staff; career prospects; terms and conditions of service; and adequate clinical facilities for the provision of appropriate care. I offer your Lordships a few examples to illustrate the general issues. I begin with recruitment. I am aware that there may have been some recent improvement in this respect. However, there is still a very serious shortfall; for example, in 1996-97 there were 25 entrants to the RAMC, compared with a projected target of 55. Moreover, even an improved recruitment rate cannot compensate for the reductions which have already occurred and which are destroying the training base of the medical and dental services, and the seriousness of the problems caused by the large numbers of more senior personnel who have left the services. It is impossible to run a medical service on junior and relatively inexperienced staff.

The Defence Costs Study of 1994 reported that about 1,400 uniformed doctors and dentists were employed by the regular Armed Forces and proposed that up to 750 should be made redundant. In 1997, there were only 870 uniformed doctors left and there are now serious shortages in key personnel such as surgeons, anaesthetists and general practitioners. In the RAMC, the requirement is for 511 doctors. I understand that the current number in post is only 434. This deficit has serious knock-on effects. For example, the greater the number of shortages, the greater the pressure on those still in service with a subsequent further decline in morale. This may lead to more resignations and a downward spiral of falling retention and recruitment. That is why the cumulative effects of previous and current policies and mismanagement are so serious.

The problem of morale is exacerbated by diminished promotion prospects for medical personnel in both primary and secondary care. These are relatively poor and slow compared with those of non-medical colleagues. For example, in the Royal Navy a competent seaman officer may well become a captain by the age of 40 whereas a well qualified medical officer, who will have spent a great deal of time and effort working for specialist qualifications, may have to wait until somewhere between the age of 43 to 47 to obtain comparable promotion, if at all.

It may be thought that disaffection caused by such poor promotion prospects may be bought off by salary increases. But I have been told again and again that this is not the case. Medical personnel who see their peer group seamen officers being promoted well ahead of them feel that they are being discriminated against

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unjustly. Noble Lords will be aware of the significance of rank in service life and of the importance of the authority which accompanies rank in relationships with other officers. It is ludicrous to adopt a policy of reduced promotion prospects for an already demoralised DMS, especially if it will not cost more to recognise their seniority and expertise by appropriate promotions on a time-scale comparable to their non-medical colleagues.

Added to truncated and discriminatory career prospects are problems of frustration caused by apparent mismanagement. For example, in recent years, with one exception, doctors' pay rises have been several months late. This year, the delay was four months--from April to August. As one medical officer said:

    "It is not clever to treat an already disaffected and worried service with such inefficiency and apparent contempt".

There is also acute anxiety over the possible closure of Haslar Hospital, reference to which was made by my noble friend Lord Vivian. This is the only remaining main military hospital in this country, together with a subsidiary hospital at Catterick. The closure of Haslar would mean virtually complete dependence on MoD hospital units (MDHUs) attached to National Health Service hospitals. It would be interesting to know how many other western countries with sophisticated armed services have abolished all their military hospitals. While the arguments for combining military and civilian facilities may make sense to the Treasury, the knock-on effects for service personnel and for the provision of adequate medical care in the event of war must be potentially very serious.

I shall give your Lordships two brief examples in that respect. The first concerns service personnel. If all medical services are to be provided by MDHUs in NHS hospitals, there is a real danger that military medical and nursing staff will have all the disadvantages of service commitments with none of the advantages. They will find themselves working alongside NHS staff who may be better paid than they are; they will have the inevitable disruptions to personal and family life of postings away from home, but none of the advantages of the distinctive ethos of service life and "mess" facilities. Many are therefore asking why they should stay in the services. If Haslar is closed, some predict that the present steady flow of resignations could become a flood.

I turn now to my second example. It is, of course, difficult to maintain a balance between provision of adequate clinical services for situations of peace and war. But there is serious concern over a shortfall of medical and nursing staff, especially those with expertise in highly sophisticated specialties such as the care of patients with burns, or with facio-maxillary surgery. The NHS already suffers severe shortages in many such specialist services, even without having to care for the influx of casualties which would occur in the event of conflict. The enormous changes to the DMS, with concentration in DHMUs, have been made far too hastily, causing confusion and even lower morale among service staff who have not yet opted to leave, while a disturbingly high proportion of those who are leaving are newly appointed consultants and well-qualified general practitioners--the senior

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personnel. Many doctors and nurses in the services have been angered by the perception that their concerns have been belittled by senior executives and by medical management at the highest levels.

I turn briefly to the situation in Germany where secondary care is now provided by the German hospital service. The notes provided by German doctors have to be translated back in Britain, and translations may take up to three months. Also, German doctors are using different drugs in different combinations from their United Kingdom counterparts and their instructions have to be amended in order to take into account drugs made in the UK.

The cumulative effect of these recent changes and of the current shortages are reflected in problems associated with reservists. Shortages of regulars have highlighted the problems which can arise when undue reliance is placed on the reserve forces. During the Gulf War it was clear that the regular medical personnel were inadequate in numbers and in composition. As a result, a large number of territorials and other reservists had to be called upon. It would appear that the Armed Forces are being allowed to make savings without regard to the impact on the NHS. Conversely, many NHS trusts are reluctant to allow key personnel the time they need to pursue medical military training with the reserve forces and many reservists had difficulty obtaining release from their National Health Service posts during the Gulf War. It is the BMA's view that the Reserve Forces Act does not provide adequate support for reservists needing release from their civilian employment.

These tensions in the NHS are exacerbated by the emphasis on competition through the internal market, and problems with recruitment and retention of both consultants and GPs have led to a climate in which NHS employers are equivocal about the commitment they make to employee reservists asking for time off for military training. Your Lordships will be aware that regular training is an essential requirement for reservists, and there is fear of insufficient safeguards to ensure that NHS employers are obliged to give the necessary time off to enable reservists to maintain the training they need to be available as an effective resource in time of need.

We live in a world where many unstable situations could erupt into further serious conflicts involving this country's Armed Forces. It is clear that at present there are very serious problems with regard to the availability of an adequate DMS to provide essential care for service personnel in the event of such conflicts. Therefore, I hope the Minister will today be able to offer reassurances, not only to noble Lords but to the many personnel in the DMS--doctors, nurses, medical assistants and others--who are currently experiencing anxiety, demoralisation and disaffection.

I understand that an independent market research survey is currently being undertaken to ascertain the views of all service medical officers about conditions of service and career intentions. I believe that the results of the survey will be very informative and important. Will the Minister undertake to make the findings of the survey available to Parliament so that subsequent debate can take this very significant evidence into account.

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While recognising that many of the problems confronting the DMS are a legacy of the previous government, there has not as yet been much to reassure it from the present Government. I hope that tonight the Minister may be a harbinger of good tidings, in keeping with the spirit of Advent, and begin to reverse the downward spiral of frustration and discontent before it is too late and the DMS deteriorates beyond the point of resuscitation.

7.13 p.m.

Baroness Strange: My Lords, I feel a little strange speaking from exactly the same seat in the House from which I made my maiden speech 12 years ago. In fact, I had half intended not to speak, until persuaded by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, at tea yesterday. But of course if I did not feel Strange at all there would be something seriously wrong.

It is a privilege, as always, to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Cox. I would like briefly to congratulate my noble and gallant friend the Master Gunner, who is no longer in his place, on a clear, authoritative and brilliant maiden speech, with every phrase of which I personally agreed. The Strategic Defence Review is an excellent document, not only because the noble Lord the Minister, Lord Gilbert, has been so supportive of this House by asking your Lordships for your opinions, and acting on some of them, but because it starts from the premise "What do we need defence for?" It follows on from that. There are, as I see it, only two flaws in it, and they both spring from ignoring the unexpected, which, alas, in this world is what usually happens.

The first flaw is in cutting down the Territorials. I shall only mention this very briefly as it was so excellently and brilliantly covered by my noble and gallant friend Lord Bramall when he was speaking after the gracious Speech two weeks ago. Not only did he speak much better on the subject than I could have done, he was also much fiercer than I should have dared to be. He made the point--and as he is not speaking today, I shall make it again--that the Territorials are the only reserves we have got. However, he did not perhaps emphasise as much as I should have liked the Scottish Territorials. On this subject the right honourable gentleman the Secretary of State for Defence has already made very considerable moves and concessions in the right direction. It is excellent that there will still be territorial centres in Fife--at Baltimore Road in Glenrothes, at Bothwell House in Elgin Street, Dunfermline (though not at Bruce House), at Hunter Street, Kirkcaldy and at Yeomanry House in Cupar. There will still be a territorial presence at RAF Leuchars, though not, alas, at RAF Kinloss or Lossiemouth. Having had many happy associations with it in its naval days, I am saddened that HMS Camperdown in Dundee is now finally to be shut down and not even used to store vehicles any more. I am delighted that the Black Watch is to retain its territorial presence in Perth at Queen's Barracks, although a diminished one with 25 men and a band strength of 34. My great-great uncle and my father both served in the

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Black Watch, and my husband's uncle won the VC serving in it during the First World War, so I do feel a very strong attachment.

There is an old Victorian ballad about the army volunteers, which I can only remember in part--perhaps mercifully--so your Lordships are very largely spared. But it is, in many ways, relevant. It begins:

    "A queer wee man wis Jimmy Shaw And he and his wife and his mither-in-law They keppit a wee bit shoppie in Dundee."
But he joined what I believe must be the Victorian equivalent of the Territorials, for the chorus is:

    "Noo Jimmie's jined the Volunteers, A pair of tartan breeks he wears, Marching off to fame and glory."
However, after many vicissitudes and much fighting, in which Jimmy distinguished himself, there was clearly an Options for Change, or merely a Strategic Defence Review, for the final verse--which ends happily, your Lordships will be relieved to hear--is:

    "Noo here he is at the Queen's Review, What though his troops are terrible few, A sergeant, and a piper, and one man. The Queen she says, "Weel, Mr Shaw, Your men are as fine as ever I saw, Though they're no sae very numerous it seems. But gie's the lane o' your sword," says she, "And doon ye get on yer bendit knee, And I'll mak ye Major General Sir Jeems."

The other flaw in the Strategic Defence Review is that either there are not enough people in the services or there are too many commitments--whichever way one looks at it--to avoid overstretch. Unlike many noble Lords, I have no personal service experience, but I have been privileged with the Defence Study Group to visit many of our Armed Forces and their families, both in this country and abroad. What has always emerged, like a shining light, is how brave, skilled, professional, uncomplaining and dedicated they all are. But let us not forget that, however many rare virtues they possess, they are still people and they need to spend time with their families. Twenty-four months between front line tours is all right. Anything less is not--and the time between front line tours, combined with away-from-home training, is often very much less than that.

Christmas is a time for thinking about families, for being with families. Let us at this special time think how we can help the families of those who are not only dedicated to defending us but to preserving peace all over the world.

7.19 p.m.

Lord Kennet: My Lords, with not long to think about it, the only naval ballad I can recite which might possibly match that of the noble Baroness, Lady Strange, is as follows:

    "The boatswain we had was apparently mad For he sat on the after rail And he fired salutes with the commodore's boots In the teeth of a roaring gale".
I often feel like that boatswain. However, less so tonight than usual: I am going to be a great deal more friendly to the Government.

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In the past few weeks, there have been a number of most interesting shifts: the defence Ministers in Vienna, St. Malo and ministerial statements and remarks all seem to be signifying a change of course which I believe will be greatly to the benefit of the British people. Here at last is the foreign policy which we had been told would lead the Strategic Defence Review but did not; and it has now become visible.

What did emerge in that and in the Strategic Defence Review was a useful piece of housekeeping. The great question has been: will the European members of NATO find their voice in time to prevent NATO becoming a heedless extension of US power around the world, expensive to its members and threatening to everyone else? Now it looks as though the answer may, after all, be yes. We appear finally to have realised that we cannot keep "defence" facing in one direction while our other interests and activities face in another. Our "security" involves the whole comprehensive gamut of our external affairs, and, in a globalising world, that means their economic, environmental, cultural and legal dimensions as well as the purely military.

As the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, reminded the House only yesterday, the Prime Minister called at the North Atlantic Assembly last month in Edinburgh for,

    "a more effective Europe in foreign policy and security",

    "a European decision-making capacity and command structure".
On 3rd December the Foreign Secretary said in the Commons--I am sorry if I am robbing my noble friend Lord Gilbert of all the punchlines he was going to give: they are very good ones and I am sure he will not grudge me them:

    "We are exploring how we can make decisions within the common foreign and security policy more effective, and more rapid, and how we can ensure that there is a better transmission between the security policy decided by the Foreign Ministers of the EU and the defence policy that we implement through the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation".--[Official Report, Commons, 3/12/98; col. 1083.]
Note here the use of the word "decide" for what the EU Foreign Ministers do and the word "implement" for what happens in NATO. That is right. For us Europeans, this language should be seen as a most welcome advance.

A question which should be addressed now is whether the United States retains its present veto over the use of NATO equipment of American origin, or whether the rest of us will have to develop our own surveillance systems, and so on. It is interesting and reassuring that so much effort is now going into the creation of a proper European defence industry through the joint agencies of the European Union and the WEU. It will have the advantage of being able to be no larger and no stronger than is required by actual events and dispositions.

Another task facing us Europeans is to define in advance what is to be the relationship between an active European force, engaged in something the European governments judge to be a European interest--under the UN and under international law--and a US-NATO component which may be inactive because the issue in

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question does not touch American interests. How are those relationships being envisaged? In such cases, we must be sure that the US does not just provide cruise missiles while the Europeans fill the body bags.

I turn now to relations with Russia. In June last year my noble friend Lady Symons was emphatic, in a debate I initiated on NATO and the Russian Federation, that during the course of the negotiations for the Founding Act on mutual relations the two sides agreed that it should take the form of a solemn commitment, made at the highest level, similar to the Helsinki Final Act. She went on to say:

    "anxieties in Russia about NATO ... are based on a profound misunderstanding of the character and intentions of the alliance, which are strictly defensive. The best way to achieve a thoroughgoing and lasting change in perception is to ... find a way of involving Russia in discussion of European issues that corresponds to her legitimate security interests".--[Official Report, 23/6/97; col. 1456.]
How strongly we may all endorse that!

There has been since then the matter I raised last June of the conditions Senator Helms imposed on the Clinton administration as his price for Senate approval of NATO enlargement, conditions which were in many ways incompatible with the Founding Act--specifically, his insistence on "a fire-break" between NATO and the Russian Federation. NATO would inform Russia of its decisions, not discuss them in advance. The Government's view of the Helms' conditions was that they were--I quote again my noble friend Lady Symons--

    "of course an internal matter for the United States",
and that,

    "The new strategic concept will take account of NATO's new co-operative relationships with Russia".--[Official Report, 19/6/98; cols. 1849-50.]

It was presumably on the basis of this expectation, and on a perhaps too traditional view of military affairs, and on the assumption that the NATO of the future would be little different from the NATO of recent years, that the Strategic Defence Review took place. But since then the US administration has been trying to persuade NATO to accept all the Helms' conditions, which are hirsute, into the revised NATO strategic concept. What we now see, and what the Government, I believe and hope, have now seen, is that the terms of the new strategic concept the US administration has been proposing for NATO are incompatible not only with the Founding Act--the part about not discussing the concept with the Russians until it is finalised, when we will brief them on it--but also with international law, with the United Nations Charter and with any common foreign and security policy the European Union is likely to decide on. It would even intrude into our own responsibility for the level we may choose for our defence budget.

The doctrine behind the Helms' conditions, now embodied in the US strategic concept proposals, is simply unsustainable. Not many governments in the rest of the world believe US hegemony would make for a just world system, let alone an efficient or enjoyable one. Naturally, the American people, when asked, do not wish to rule the world. Those among us who would

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really rather like an American-run world have to recognise that is not actually an available future. In the debate on the Queen's Speech, I was delighted to hear the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, mention "asymmetrical warfare" and the dangers we all face from our "vulnerability to information warfare". This is the future, and it is incompatible with any particular country running the world.

I have been raising both these points for some time, in the House and in correspondence, but parliamentary audibility, as all Members of this House know, is not very easy. We could, the Government believe, defend against this kind of thing. It is still said that the Ministry of Defence has never been hacked into, as if one would know. For commercial firms, presumably even the major utilities, it is a commercial matter, and so on. The Pentagon now, for reasons of cost, buys its electronics off the shelf, and so increasingly do we. Worst case analysis says, "You do not know if there is anything else, equivalent to the millennium bug, in what they have sold you. You cannot know"--and worst case analysis is what we pay officials in our Ministry of Defence to do. When some expensive piece of equipment blows up on launching--for example, the 1 billion dollar Mercury Sigint spacecraft that exploded on 12th August--we cannot know that some unfriendly hand was not in it.

To say that is far from saying that it was. It is just that when computer-run equipment fails, it is usually impossible to establish any exact cause or identify any guilty party within the kind of period that makes military sense.

Meanwhile, the relatively modest millennium bug approaches, and one of the US Federal Communications Commissioners says:

    "We're are definitely past the period of where you're are going to solve the problem. We're into mitigation".
At the same time, the technological disconnect between the US and its European allies continues to widen, and sophisticated communications between our militaries becomes increasingly almost impossible.

I would like to think that somewhere, and some time soon, imaginative and informed thought will be given to considering the effect of electronic war on the future of warfare itself as an institution. It has now got about as far as nuclear weapons had when imaginative and informed thought was first given to the effect of nuclear war.

The essence of the dilemma is that without communications you can do nothing, from ordering more jam to airlifting an army, and communications now are electronic: the old modes have been stood down. Now add to this that their disruption is easy, including undetectable disruption. The Pentagon has hired hackers for both external and internal exercises and has detected a great many disruptions, and failed to detect many more. Very, very, few were identified. I have raised all this before. But the fact is that your armed forces are subject to the undetectable disruption and corruption of their communications. The equipment needed to do this is small and cheap and it is made in low wage countries, where the motives and the opportunities exist for political hatred of us.

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Of course the danger is the same with weapons of mass destruction: the equipment goes in a suitcase, and such suitcases have been found. This fact has led to the elephants of NATO and of the US armed forces elsewhere in the world chasing the flies of international terrorism.

To the uninformed, it often seems as though all these dangers and counter-measures are simply more reasons to get ahead with abolishing the institution of war. The informed, unfortunately, largely live by its perpetuation.

This makes me say, let us get beyond the division of humanity into the "Don't know but do cares" and the "Do know but have my job to think abouts". That is difficult. We have to recognise that the arms industry is the only one in the world which is devoted to producing the means to destroy value. A job is good, the goods created by a job are good, and the jobs created by a job are good. But the products of the arms industry create no jobs and no value even when they are not used. When they are used they destroy jobs, value, values and life with blind efficacity. Solving crises before they turn violent should be our first purpose, and that means a far greater concern for justice and for the relief of oppression, which means the rule of law.

It would be good if just as the Prime Minister declares "Education! education! education!" in domestic affairs, so in foreign affairs he would declare "Justice! justice! justice!"

7.32 p.m.

Lord Clifford of Chudleigh: My Lords, I am delighted to be one of many to congratulate the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent, on his maiden speech today. It is a privilege to see my name alongside that of such a knowledgeable military historian as the noble and gallant Lord, Field-Marshal Lord Carver, for whom I acted as ADC when he was Chief of the Defence Staff. For his military genius the noble and gallant Lord was correctly awarded a life peerage. For my part, though I served only 10 years for Queen and country, I inherited one. However, the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, presumed that anyway!

Like so many noble Lords in this House, and most in Her Majesty's Armed Forces, one has read the paper, Modern Forces for the Modern World: A Territorial Army for the Future. The text prompted telephone calls and correspondence with those volunteers within the T&AVR units, and with a recently retired general in my regiment. I served with him in Ulster in 1972. He was a captain and I a mere subaltern. Suddenly, I feel my age.

The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Roger Wheeler, wrote a letter on 9th November 1998 which stated,

    "The Defence Review highlighted an increased emphasis on supporting and sustaining expeditionary operations".
It referred to a Territorial Army which will be,

    "part of our deployable order of battle".
Will the Minister help to clarify a statement which was reported to have been made by the Secretary of State

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for Defence which implied that the TA was not required for NATO or home defence purposes? I quote General Wheeler again,

    "The Territorial Army is a key part of our country's military capability; we must all ensure that it goes from strength to strength".
Perhaps he could explain why infantry in western Wessex is being reduced from two-and-a-half battalions to one battalion spread over five counties.

This reduction has substantial implications. First, it reduces the base for reflation of the Army in a time of future crisis, which undoubtedly will occur at some time. Secondly, it weakens the already weak link between the services and the civilian population. Thirdly, it reduces the amount of back up support available to the Regular Army in time of need; for example, in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, where substantial numbers of the TA have already been serving. Fourthly, it drastically reduces the amount of manpower available to assist in bringing military aid to civilian community tasks--for example, in a time of major flood. Fifthly, it greatly reduces the opportunity for those who wish to render voluntary services to their country. Sixthly, it minimises the reinforcements available to the Regular Army in times of future conflict.

It is true that a few elements of the Territorial Army are being increased. An example is the medical services of which we have heard much already this evening. However, as these are already under strength and are having difficulty in attracting doctors, it is unlikely that the proposed increase will have much impact.

Once again I stretched out my hand for A Territorial Army for the Future. It stated,

    "Infantry, yeomanry and supporting combat services are no longer needed to the same degree and will be reduced".
Perhaps no one showed that sentence to the Chief of the General Staff. I repeat that this reduction has substantial implications. I believe that the bent towards computerised warfare--a desire prompted by our closest ally, the United States--has led those in the highest echelons in the Ministry of Defence to try to match that mega power weapon for weapon, all at the expense of the soldier.

I quote from a senior military commander, recently involved in Bosnia, who states,

    "the Territorial Army cutbacks, especially those in the infantry are the most dangerous for the future defence of the United Kingdom in that in any future war or peace support operation, volume is needed".
That can be provided only by a strong reserve.

That same officer, a general of international note, made another remark which contradicts the principles, the idea supposedly proposed by the Secretary of State for Defence in relation to NATO:

    "It is nonsense to say that because the Home Defence and NATO roles have disappeared we can get rid of the Home Defence and NATO roled battalions. It was the Conservative Party who insisted on mission orienting the Territorial Army, against Ministry of Defence advice. It takes 30 Territorial Army soldiers (a platoon) to keep the Regular Army supplied with one man in the front line for

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    a year. Statistics being currently quoted are flawed as they do not count the men who transfer from the Territorial Army for a three year engagement [in the Regular Army]".

NATO has been mentioned on several occasions. We are aware that European countries, as well as the United States, are our partners in NATO. However, it should be remembered that our Common Market partners made no reference to common security or defence until 1992, when it was mentioned in Article 17 of the Maastricht Treaty. That was amended by the Amsterdam Treaty. There it was stated that the common (European) defence and security policy was to include all questions relating to the security of the Union--let us remember that early in the next century it will be a matter of five plus one--including the framing of a common defence policy which might lead to a common defence force, should the Euro-Council so decide.

Bearing that last statement in mind, our position in NATO underlines the vital role of support troops such as the Territorial Army. Article 18 of the Maastricht Treaty states that at international conferences where not all member states take part,

    "those who do shall uphold the Common Position".
Until recently we could speak as the United Kingdom. I question that sovereign solidarity now, and I question the Ministry of Defence's existence post-2004.

How many of us can remember the opportunity--or was it enforcement?--of being in the Cadet Corps at school? Today it is the Territorial Army that makes possible such training, such as understanding of respect for rank, cleanliness and good order. It is the Territorial Army that is the "recruiting sergeant", that encourages youth to test themselves alongside their elders and contemporaries in difficult, awkward, unusual situations, so that, when called upon to assist in military aid to the civilian community (floods, ambulance strikes, rescues at sea) they can work as a team, complementary to one another, to the benefit of others.

It would cost the nation £3 million to bring the TA to the required level of 45,000 supporting troops. Yet I am told that we are spending £250 million to refit a naval frigate which is destined to be scrapped in two years' time. As Rudyard Kipling said,

    "It's 'Tommy this' and 'Tommy that' and 'kick him out, the brute'. But it's 'Hero of the country' When the guns begin to shoot"
Only prepared people can provide peace.

7.44 p.m.

Lord Gisborough: My Lords, I am glad that the cadets have not suffered in the review. Apart from the benefits that they give to their own members, they provide a very valuable, indeed essential, bridge to the community for recruiting for the Regular Army. But more recently they have been providing another service. By means of the youth and community project, they have been offering to disaffected youth discovery days and weekly attachments to try out and see whether they enjoy all the sports that the cadets can offer. Indeed, some detachments have been intentionally formed in

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distressed areas in order to provide the opportunity for young people to attain the motivation and occupation to keep them out of trouble.

The cadets have been signally successful and have so far been prepared to fund the cost themselves or out of funds from charitable organisations. If the cadets are to be more widely used as a social medicine as much as any source for Army recruits, surely that service to the public order should be on contract to the civilian sector budget and not a total charge on the defence budget.

The cadets rely heavily on the TA for training aid and administration, as well as for their drill halls. With centres closed, who will give them that support in the future? If it is to be the Regular Army, what an expense that will be. For example, in my own home town of Guisborough, the Territorial Army is to be closed down. It serves some seven cadet units, yet the TA centre does not currently have, and has not for some years had, any permanent staff. That TA centre also provides a focus for many social benefits, as a function location and a venue for charity work. People in the area are extremely upset that it is to close.

Likewise, the Territorial Army has been helping society at a higher age group. The TA has drill halls and has trained staff available. They are valuable resources which at many times of the week are inadequately used. The TA is hoping to teach unemployed no-hopers many skills such as vehicle maintenance and IT, and to encourage and help them to return to the labour market. These are the youngsters who otherwise may cause nothing but pain and trouble to the community, and who have been referred to as a "ticking time-bomb".

I could single out the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, who are pioneering on their own initiative a scheme to assist disaffected youth. They run one to five day courses for unmotivated and "dropped out" 16 to 24 year-olds, many with criminal records, where they are instructed at drill halls and taught life skills. The Army manages to motivate them, and several may join the Army instead of drifting into crime. Funds come from various trusts, including the Prince's Trust, and involves the Gateway and the New Deal. But the cost ensures that it is run on only a small scale. What a shame it would be if the scheme should take off just as drill halls were sold to be pulled down and redeveloped. They would be the ideal sites for courses to be run and the instructors could be both regular and territorial soldiers. Indeed, it would be one of the greatest peacetime contributions to the country that the TA could make, but it would be quite wrong and just would not happen unless the cost was borne by a Vote other than the defence budget. Yet the cost of the use of drill halls to train young tearaways to become good citizens would be amply justified by the reduction in the cost of potential crime.

The MoD has a couple of officers concerned with the youth initiative, but the potential success is too valuable to be limited by the cost to the defence budget, and the Home Office should be buying the services from the military. Further thoughts might lead to assistance with community service, prisoner training, assisting with probation and so forth. The military could make a huge

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contribution against crime and it would be cost-effective. But again, the help should not fall on the defence budget, or the military would naturally decline to provide it.

The military corrective training centre, or glasshouse, is another area that could be contracted out for civilian use. Built to a high specification, it is, unlike the prisons, designed to raise spirits. Perhaps as a result, the rate of re-offending is only 12 per cent. as opposed to 50 per cent. in civilian prisons. The training not only deters re-offending, but many military inmates go on to become NCOs. It should be said that most military inmates are not violent or vicious disturbed criminals, as are many inmates in civilian prisons. But likewise, there are many in civilian prisons who are not vicious or disturbed and who would benefit from such a regime rather than being in overcrowded cells or being abused in ordinary prisons. The staff of the MCTC are highly trained and proven leaders, never below the rank of sergeant.

Surely it would be worth considering sending those civilian prisoners who might be thought able to benefit from it to the MCTC. The idea could be pursued, with prisons run on army lines, entirely devoted to civilian tearaways, with military or ex-military staff, but financed by the Home Office. These would not be boot camps but training camps from which inmates could emerge as responsible members of society.

The training is military, demanding and concentrated, but it is also interesting, and soldiers return to their units well motivated. Civilian prisoners might equally be motivated. It is, of course, expensive, but the cost must be compared with the cost that would be incurred if the offender were, without that training, to become one of the 50 per cent. who re-offend having come out of an ordinary prison, rather than one of the 12 per cent. who received the better training. If suitable offenders were to be directed to the MCTC or a civilian equivalent run by these trained leaders, their offending rate might be drastically reduced.

There should be no reason why the military should not be able to contract out their expertise and any spare capacity to the civilian market. With that funding, the military could budget for extra staff and would therefore not be able to use the argument that they were already overstretched. The services would gain from having a larger pool of staff to mature and rotate. This would be in accordance with the wish of the Government that all departments should adopt a more entrepreneurial attitude.

Bands are also to be drastically reduced. That is a great shame. Bands are a very important part of public relations, and the interface of the Army with the public will be greatly reduced.

An interesting point in the review is that the TA establishment of medics should be increased. In my TAVRA we anticipate that it will be very difficult to achieve the required strength. When doctors attend camp it interferes dramatically with their system of appointments, and hospitals are loath to let them go. We do not expect that our establishment will be reached for

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some years, if ever. It may well be that if civilian medics are required for emergencies, as they will be, some system other than through the TA will have to be found.

On a more direct defence matter, I was very concerned to read in a brief that top Chinese General Mi Zhenyu told the Chinese two years ago:

    "We quietly nurse our sense of vengeance. We must conceal our abilities and bide our time".
We have lived through the aggressive aspirations of the Germans twice and those of the Russians, the Japanese and now the Iraqis. It seems that China may well be the next to threaten world peace. They are powered by a strong feeling of wounded nationalism, with the xenophobic conviction that they are the superior race and that their grievances have not been avenged. China already has the largest army in the world and, having studied the Gulf War, has spent billions on military equipment from Russia alone in the past two years. I read that China admits that it plans to occupy islands almost as far south as Singapore. Vietnam and the Philippines are no match for China's 9,000 tanks, and they know it. China is already using its fire-power, as in 1988 when it sank three Vietnamese ships, and in 1994 when it warned off a US naval force. I sincerely hope that my brief is unduly alarmist and untrue; but let us cultivate friendship with China and ensure that it does not feel any further loss of face. However justified it may be, let us not do a Pinochet with the next Chinese leader to visit the country.

But let us be fully aware that history could repeat itself and that the day may come when there will be a showdown and the whole of the Far East could flare up into warfare. Whether this country and the US would be sucked into any such conflict, I do not know, but one thing that is sure is that we must maintain the military capability to respond in whatever way the political decision may be taken. Thankfully, this country keeps up its technological expertise, but only time will tell whether we shall rue the day when we disbanded so many reserves from our Territorial Army. Napoleon said:

    "When China awakes let the world tremble".
China is waking.

7.54 p.m.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I should like to begin by congratulating the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Vincent, on his fine maiden speech and by broadly supporting the SDR. I had hoped that I could claim to be the most junior military person present, having managed the rank of lieutenant, having turned down a captaincy in the TA because it would have meant leaving a light aid detachment. However, I am informed by my noble friend Lord Wallace of Saltaire that he only managed to reach the rank of sergeant-major in a CCF, so I outrank him.

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