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Washington Dc

Volume 976: debated on Tuesday 20 November 1979

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asked the Prime Minister when she next intends to visit Washington DC.

I visited Washington DC on Monday for talks with President Carter. I have no immediate plans for a further visit.

When the Prime Minister sees President Carter again, will she make the position regarding the installation of cruise missiles in this country absolutely clear? Is she aware that there is a considerable body of opinion against the siting of cruise missiles in this country and against those decisions being reached without any debate in a free assembly in Parliament here?—[interruption.]—Does she realise that there is objection to missiles being placed on the soil of this country in the sole control of the Americans when this country could be turned into a radioactive cinder heap by accident, as the incident at Colorado Springs demonstrated—[interruption.]—Does she accept—

Order. I know that there is a lot of noise, but it is a very long question.

Does the Prime Minister accept that cuts in public expenditure and increases in defence expenditure will mean a miserable Christmas for many people this year?

I am not quite sure which of those half dozen questions to answer. I believe that the vast majority of people in this country are well behind this Government's attitude to defence and our determination to deter the Soviet Union at all levels, whether it be the strategic level, the level of theatre nuclear forces or the level of conventional weapons.

With regard to one particular matter which I thought I heard the hon. Gentleman mention in his speech—in his series of questions—the control of these weapons is the same as the control of atomic weapons has been under successive Governments.

Will the Prime Minister congratulate the Foreign Secretary, and will she accept the congratulations of the House, in that, for the first time for 16 years, Rhodesia is likely to face Christmas and the prospect of peace with her self and with the international community? Was not my right hon. Friend's reception in Washington a tribute to the work that she has done in this regard?

I thank my hon. Friend for those comments. I shall gladly convey his message to the Foreign Secretary, and also to the Lord Privy Seal. It is the best possible Christmas present that the people of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia could have and the best possible Christmas present for anyone who is interested in the future of democracy in central Africa.

Did the Prime Minister discuss with President Carter the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power station? Is she entirely satisfied that the Government are being responsible in planning to build similar power stations in this country?

I did not discuss that accident with President Carter. As the hon. Gentleman knows, there has been a full report about it. I believe that my right hon. Friend made a statement about the possibility of PWR reactors in this country. What is of paramount consideration is the clearance of that system for safety under our rules and regulations.

Will the Prime Minister refrain from visiting the American capital again so long as the United States maintains its unfriendly ban on the supply of weapons to a police force in the United Kingdom?

It is not as yet a ban. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, 3,000 Ruger revolvers were delivered for use by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, because we wished wholly to re-equip that force with those weapons, which are the best for the purpose. There is another order for 3,000 such weapons. That order has neither been accepted nor rejected. I made it perfectly clear that, if that order were rejected, it would be not only wrong, but a propaganda victory for the IRA.