CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

DEFENCE AND THE ARMED FORCES – 1 November 2000

Dr Julian Lewis: What I am about to say will not come as a surprise to the Secretary of State [Geoff Hoon] because he has heard it from me before. Will he explain to the House how he can guarantee that a crisis that does not involve the Americans will not escalate out of control in a way that would not have happened if the Americans and NATO had been involved from the beginning? It is that unpredictability that is so dangerous.

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Dr Lewis: In fairness to the Prime Minister, he said that he wanted to create a European super-power, not a European superstate. Can my hon. Friend [Iain Duncan Smith] or, indeed, anyone else, throw any light whatever on the difference and distinction between the two?

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Dr Lewis: I ask the hon. Gentleman [John Smith] to address the point more closely. Article 5 prescribes that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all. I am sure that he is right in what he has said about that. Some of us are concerned that if there were to be a crisis that developed and was made subject to crisis management techniques under the European security and defence policy, it could escalate, with other countries being drawn in, in a way that could lead to a result which would not have been brought about if NATO had been involved at the outset.

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Dr Lewis: The hon. Gentleman [Brian Jenkins] is describing a hoary old myth that is always brought up in the context of European security and defence. In NATO, however, we always have the option of withdrawing at any moment, whereas we would not have such an option in a common European security and defence policy, if there ever is one.