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Special Air Service Regiment

Volume 894: debated on Tuesday 24 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list in the Official Report those countries in which members of the Special Air Service Regiment are currently operating.

I have nothing to add to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) on 20th May 1975.—[Vol 892, c. 355.]

Is my hon. Friend aware that I am not in the least surprised that he has nothing to add to his previous reply? As his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said that it was no longer his aspiration to police the world, and as no doubt my hon. Friend is helping his right hon. Friend to go through the estimates with a fine-tooth comb to try to find something else to cut, will be consider the SAS as a candidate? Many Government supporters do not consider that the activities of the SAS in Northern Ireland, Oman, Malaysia, Thailand or wherever the SAS might be are any credit to this country.

First, I must put my hon. Friend right. The SAS is not involved in Northern Ireland. The House was told in the Statement on the Defence Estimates that it was the Government's intention to continue to give military support to the Sultan of Oman. The level of our assistance is kept under regular review.

is the Minister aware that many Opposition Members are getting increasingly bored with the totally uncalled-for attack on what is perhaps the finest regiment in the British Army? It is a volunteer regiment which is probably the best-equipped and best-trained in the Army. Will the hon. Gentleman point out to his hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) that the regiment has also an important rôle in the defence of Western Europe?

Yes, Sir. I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his comments. The SAS is a fully volunteer regiment and it is a fine regiment which is doing a fine job. In spite of what my hon. Friend said, the main rôle of the SAS is in the NATO context.