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Cruise Missile Bases

Volume 78: debated on Tuesday 30 April 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is satisfied with security at ground-launched cruise missile bases.

Will the Minister accept that the security needed to protect missiles in Britain is acting against the interests of the British people and that the very liberty that they are intended to defend is being destroyed by the action that is taken against people such as those in the peace movement?

I should have thought that most British people would welcome the fact that proper measures are being taken to protect important nuclear assets in the country.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the British manning of these sites whereby we have a ratio of four to one relative to our American allies provides them with almost complete security, and such penetration of these bases as there has been has been of the outer perimeter only?

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend. It is certainly the case that we are never complacent on matters of security, and therefore keep all matters under review. We are satisfied that the present security arrangements appear to be satisfactory.

What security purpose is being served by large numbers of MOD police and barbed wire guarding the half-built peace chapel at Molesworth? Will the Minister now remove those police and the barbed wire, and allow the chapel to be completed and people to attend services there?

As the hon. Gentleman should be aware, the so-called peace chapel was constructed inside MOD property by those who engaged in acts of trespass.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the nation as a whole, and Cambridgeshire in particular, expects the maximum degree of security for a defence policy which was agreed in principle by the Labour Government in 1979? Will he ensure in particular that there is no interference with this defence establishment by a body such as CND, which has totally failed to reveal the full sources of its finances?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I can certainly assure him that we intend to discharge our obligations under the NATO-INF arrangements, including the security obligations in respect of ground launched cruise missiles.

Will the Minister tell the House exactly how he can justify the presence of seven policemen to guard the peace chapel, which is on land that will not be used for the building of missile sites? Seven policemen and a police dog were guarding about 100 sq yds of earth when Members of the House of Commons visited Molesworth last Wednesday. How can expenditure be justified on mounting such a guard for 100 sq yds of land when there are no plans to build upon it?

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would expect all parts of the site to be protected properly. I am glad that he was able to have first-hand experience of the security arrangements at Molesworth.

Will my hon. Friend condemn the members of Peterborough CND who have been cutting up sections of the perimeter fence at Molesworth and sending it through the mail to senior public figures, including Members of this place? Does he agree that this criminal damage sits rather uneasily alongside their somewhat holier-than-thou attitude towards both law and morality?

I agree with my hon. Friend that such activities are not especially profitable and that those concerned could be much better employed.