§ 2. Mr. Mike O'Brien
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he has for further compulsory redundancies in the armed services; and if he will list the numbers in each service to be made redundant in each of the next three years. 
§ The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. Nicholas Soames)
No further redundancies are planned beyond those already announced.
§ Mr. O'Brien
Does the Minister recall that the 1992 Conservative party manifesto said that cuts of 27 per cent. would devastate our conventional forces? How does he reconcile that analysis with the fact that, through progressive salami slicing that has undermined morale, his Government have cut the armed forces by more than one third?
§ Mr. Soames
I know that it might have escaped the hon. Gentleman's notice, but since that time the cold war has ended, the Berlin wall has come down, the Warsaw pact has gone home and we are operating in a totally changed and entirely different strategic environment. To suggest that the services could have remained still and unchanged against such a background is idle folly. May I remind the hon. Gentleman that his party is presently proposing to take £4.5 billion out of the defence budget, a conference decision that is binding on the Labour party?
§ Mr. Trotter
Is not the strength of our forces based on our spending more than the European average on defence? Would not the cut of £4,000 million a year that was 101 approved by the Labour party at its conference and is supported by many Opposition Members lead to a great reduction in the strength and capability of our forces and many redundancies, not only in the services but in the industry that supports them?
§ Mr. Soames
My hon. Friend makes a devastating case on his own account. He is absolutely right. Such a move would be deeply damaging, not only to Britain's strategic and commercial interests, but to the very fibre and backbone of the nation. Our armed forces are a golden asset for the United Kingdom. The Conservative party has looked after them well and will continue to do so.