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Volume 978: debated on Tuesday 12 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he next intends to meet his North Atlantic Treaty Organisation colleagues.

:I expect to meet NATO Defence Ministers at the Eurogroup and Defence Planning Committee meetings in May.

When my right hon. Friend meets his NATO colleagues will he raise with them the dangerous situation that may arise as a result of the uncertainties in Yugoslavia following the illness of President Tito? Will he discuss with them at the first opportunity the possibility of an unfortunate outcome to those difficulties and uncertainties?

:We shall consider that possibility when the time comes. The meeting is some way off. I remind my hon. Friend that the Prime Minister has said that we shall do everything we can to see that the independence of Yugoslavia is maintained.

:Will the Secretary of State tell his colleagues at NATO that the failure to ratify SALT 2 is as harmful to the people of America and the NATO countries as it is to the Soviets and that America should be urged to consider that fact?

I believe that the hon. Gentleman knows the position of the Government on that matter. We hope that SALT 2 will be ratified. That is also the hope of the Opposition. There has been no change in that matter

:Will my right hon. Friend tell his colleagues at NATO and in this House what is the planned increase in defence spending by his Department over the next five years?

:The House knows that the Government attach great importance to the NATO aim to seek to achieve a 3 per cent. increase per year in real terms. We believe that to be a most important objective.

Will one item on the agenda be the question of possible nuclear leaks from URENCO, in Almelo, Holland? Is not that of great concern relating, as it does to Pakistan and NATO policy?

I doubt whether the Defence Planning Committee is the proper body to deal with that matter but I shall consider what the hon. Gentleman has said.