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British Army Of The Rhine

Volume 894: debated on Tuesday 24 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to reduce the strength of BAOR in the next 12 months.

The strength of BAOR is constantly subject to marginal change as a result of unit changeovers and the need to meet commitments elsewhere, such as in Northern Ireland. We will not, however, make any reduction below our Brussels Treaty commitment in advance of mutual and balanced force reductions.

As the recent fall in the value of the pound has added close to £25 million to the cost of the British Army of the Rhine since publication of the defence review, can the Minister say what negotiations the Government are having with the West German Government about offset agreements?

Does not my hon. Friend agree that one reason for the fall in the value of the pound is the enormous contribution to the deficit in the balance of payments which the British Army of the Rhine causes? After all these years, is it not time that the Government concluded an effective offset agreement with Germany, the country which wants us to stay there and the country most able to help us in our balance of payments effort?

This matter will be discussed in the new offset agreement which comes in, I believe, in 1976.