18 December 2002

Missile Defence

The Committee notes that the Ministry of Defence has now received a request from the United States Department of Defense for the upgrading of early warning radar facilities in the UK for use in a possible missile defence system, which might in due course be extended to cover the United Kingdom.

The Committee has taken evidence twice this year from the Ministry of Defence on this subject: from MoD officials on 27th February 2002 and from the Secretary of State, Geoffrey Hoon, on 20th March 2002. It also has discussed missile defence during visits to Washington D.C. and Moscow earlier this year.  

The American request follows publication by the MoD of a discussion paper on missile defence. The Committee welcomes the fact that the Secretary of State has indicated that the Government's decision will be informed by a public and parliamentary discussion. Indeed, we have long been pressing for an informed public debate of these issues.

For its part, the Committee will be continuing its inquiries into missile defence and plans to visit RAF Fylingdales early in the New Year and to take evidence from the Secretary of State on Wednesday 15th January 2003.

Written submissions to the Committee are welcome and should be sent to the Clerk of the Committee, preferably in electronic format to the Committee's e-mail address: Submissions should reach us by 8th January 2003.