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World Peace Council

Volume 124: debated on Tuesday 8 December 1987

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7.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has received representations about the implications for his policy on arms control of the policies propounded by the World Peace Council, a copy of which has been forwarded to him.

The so-called World Peace Council opposes the concept of the nuclear deterrent, which is an essential foundation of our defence policy. Opposition Members and their supporters lose no opportunity of supporting its approach.

Will my hon. Friend take a shovelful of Siberian salt to the examination of the so-called Auckland declaration, issued by the World Peace Council, which is, of course, Soviet-backed, although four Opposition Members are members of the British arm? Is it any surprise to my hon. Friend that the declaration does not contain any condemnation of the occupation of Afghanistan? Does my hon. Friend agree that if we had followed the policy of not deploying cruise and Pershing missiles into Europe in the first place we should not be having today's INF agreement?

My hon. Friend does well to remind the House of the sorts of policies that are espoused by the World Peace Council. It is not surprising that it has not condemned the occupation of Afghanistan, because it supported the suppression of the Hungarians, the installation of missiles in Cuba and the invasion of Hungary.

It is clear that there would not be an INF agreement today if the policy of one-sided disarmament, espoused by the Labour party, had been followed, because there would not have been anything about which to have an agreement.

I have never at any time supported the World Peace Council. Nevertheless, is it not clear that the objectives of such a body are in line with the thinking of all sane people in the world—the removal of nuclear weapons from every country? Is it not clear that the people of this country, and, indeed, the world, see the INF agreement as only a first step? Is it not also clear that all of us must continue to work hard to get rid of nuclear weapons, beginning with this country, in line with Labour party policy?

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his non-membership of the World Peace Council. The council's policy of objecting to the nuclear deterrent goes against the interests of this country and of NATO, and should be rejected firmly by all hon. Members.

Does my hon. Friend accept that nuclear force reductions leave us increasingly vulnerable to imbalances in biological, chemical and conventional forces, especially when the Soviet Union is moving from labour-intensive to capital-intensive forces? Does he also accept that reductions must be achieved on an integrated basis and that, unless we achieve that in our agreements, we should be prepared to pay more for our defence?

My hon. Friend draws attention to an important factor. Although, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) said, the INF agreement may be only the first step, it is essential that before long we should tackle the major issue of the imbalance in conventional forces and the threat of chemical warfare, which is so strong from the other side.

When the Minister sneers at those who do not believe in and want to get rid of the nuclear deterrent, is he sneering at the 121 nations that have signed the United Nations nuclear non-proliferation treaty? If any of the 121 nations that have renounced nuclear weapons, decide to obtain them because they believe that the Government are right and they want such weapons what will he say to them?

Unlike the hon. Gentleman, I do not sneer at anybody. I am merely pointing out that the nuclear deterrent is an essential part of our defence and that of our allies in NATO, and I suspect that it will long remain so.