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Cruise Missiles

Volume 82: debated on Tuesday 2 July 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many cruise missiles are presently stationed on the British mainland.

I refer the hon. Member to paragraph 27 of volume I of the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1985".

Has the Minister any idea of the number contained in the paragraph he has mentioned, the attendant costs of those cruise missiles stationed on the British mainland and the feelings among this generation of young people — [Interruption.] — when, on the one hand, they see the amount of money that is spent on cruise missiles, while, on the other hand, they live in a country where millions are denied the right to work and in a world where hundreds of millions are denied the right to food? Is that not a clear indication of the crazy priorities of the capitalist system?

If the hon. Gentleman refers to the Statement on the Defence Estimates he will note that three flights of ground-launched cruise missiles have now been deployed in the United Kingdom—48 missiles. On his wider remarks, I remind him that the INF deployment by NATO is in response to a very serious offensive threat by the Soviet Union. By way of perspective on the figures I have just given him, I remind him that at the end of 1979 the number of SS20 warheads facing western Europe was 243 and by the end of last year it had risen to 729.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in view of the Soviet nuclear position on SS20s, the majority of this generation are very relieved that Her Majesty's Government have decided to locate cruise missiles in this country? Is he satisfied with the security of the location of these missiles, and in particular is he satisfied that the amenities of residents in the area will be properly safeguarded in view of the fact that some county councils, such as Cambridgeshire, where the Liberals are in control, seem to have lost their nerve on this issue?

I am not surprised that my hon. Friend says that Liberal councillors have lost their nerve, and Cambridgeshire is not the only place in which that has happened. As to security, all the normal security arrangements take place and people are very highly protected, particularly in the most secure areas. I entirely agree with the earlier remarks of my hon. Friend, which I am sure reflect the views of the great majority of people in the country.