Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign Countries (Sale of Arms)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th July 1964.

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Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West 12:00 am, 27th July 1964

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (1) if he will name the countries with whom Her Majesty's Government are currently negotiating for the sale of British military arms and equipment;

(2) if he will list the countries with which it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government not to trade in military arms and equipment.

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

There are certain countries, such as those of the Soviet bloc, Far Eastern Communist countries, and Cuba, to whom it is our policy not to supply arms. Requests from other countries are considered in the light of their political, economic and strategic implications. It is not Her Majesty's Government's policy to name the countries with whom they are negotiating the sale of arms and military equipment.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Can the right hon. Gentleman say why the Foreign Office should not make clear the names of the countries to which the Government have no intention of supplying arms and the names of the countries to which they have supplied arms, without necessarily giving the amounts provided, say in the last five years? Can the right hon. Gentleman explain further what are the most important principles to which the Government adhere when they are negotiating such sales? Are they political considerations or considerations as to what the arms are likely to be used for, or are they purely commercial considerations?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I gave in my original Answer a description of the countries—the Soviet bloc, Far Eastern Communist countries, and so forth—to which we do not supply arms. It must, therefore, be derived that the other countries are possible countries to which we should supply arms. When we consider the export of arms we take account of any likelihood of their being re-exported or needed for aggression, or for the subversion of other countries or against British or Commonwealth forces.

Photo of Mr Patrick Gordon Walker Mr Patrick Gordon Walker , Smethwick

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us a little more about the frigates for India? Can he confirm or deny that the Indian High Commissioner here has made frequent representations to himself, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and that the Prime Minister should have known about this since he was involved in it? Was it because of British representations that the Indians broke off negotiations with Sweden for the supply of these frigates? Was it because it was represented to them by our Government that this would not be showing sufficient gratitude for the help which we gave India against China?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

That is a question which will have to be put down to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations.