South Africa (Supply of Arms)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd July 1963.

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Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough 12:00 am, 2nd July 1963

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in view of the fact that the Government of the Republic of South Africa is now openly stating details of its purchase of military aircraft from this country, he will in future disclose when licences are granted for this purpose.

Photo of Mr Frederick Erroll Mr Frederick Erroll , Altrincham and Sale

It is not the practice to disclose details of export licences for the supply of defence equipment to other Governments.

Photo of Mr Fenner Brockway Mr Fenner Brockway , Eton and Slough

But is not this nonsense when the Minister of Defence for South Africa announces in detail the helicopters and aircraft which have been purchased from this country? Are Members of this House to be denied the information provided there and are we to be given no opportunity of expressing the moral protest of this country against the supply or arms to this apartheid Government?

Photo of Mr Frederick Erroll Mr Frederick Erroll , Altrincham and Sale

I see no reason for departing from the practice followed by a number of Governments since the war in refusing to disclose details simply because a particular purchaser may have chosen to indicate what he or his Government is buying from this country. The question about moral indignation should be directed to my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

If the right hon. Gentleman will not disclose details, will he announce a policy at least as good as that of the United States Government, which is refusing to allow the export of arms to South Africa which might be used to enforce apartheid, and a policy at least as good as that of the West German Government, which is refusing to allow the export of any offensive arms to South Africa?

Photo of Mr Frederick Erroll Mr Frederick Erroll , Altrincham and Sale

I think that our policy on arms shipments to South Africa is a good one and is perfectly defensible. I am sure that on an appropriate occasion the Government would be very glad to defend it.

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the Government's policy is perfectly defensible, will not he give us the details of it so that we may judge whether it is or not?

Photo of Mr Frederick Erroll Mr Frederick Erroll , Altrincham and Sale

I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to my main Answer, that it is not the practice to disclose details of export licences for the supply of defence equipment to other Governments.