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Royal Navy Surface-To-Surface Missile

Volume 723: debated on Wednesday 2 February 1966

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy with regard to the development or procurement of a surface-to-surface missile for the Royal Navy.

Can the hon. Gentleman at least confirm that it is the Government's intention to equip the Royal Navy with some form of surface-to-surface guided missile? Is not this a serious gap in our present naval armament?

The hon. Gentleman will realise that this is bound up with a number of other decisions on the Defence Review, and I can make no comment on it now.

Does the hon. Gentleman recollect that his Under-Secretary of State last week indicated that one of the standing requirements of the Royal Navy for surface-to-surface weapons was for a medium-range armament at present covered by the 6-inch and 4½-inch guns? Is he saying that there are no proposals for and no consideration being given to the next generation which will replace those?

All these things have been and are under study, but, on the question of future missiles, the right hon. Gentleman will realise that we already have surface-to-air missiles and at present we depend for surface-to-surface capacity on the strike aircraft, so we cannot take this decision in isolation from the Defence Review.

Will my hon. Friend advise his right hon. Friend on our behalf not to make the mistake of the previous Administration in spending vast sums of money running into hundreds of millions of £s for missiles and other arms which were discovered to be of no value?