Arms Trade

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th June 1991.

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Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West 12:00 am, 4th June 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent policy changes he has made regarding the assistance given by his Department to enable arms manufacturers to participate in the international arms trade.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

As the unchecked international arms trade, which includes a contribution from Britain, has created monsters such as Saddam Hussein, who caused the Gulf war that killed more than 100,000 people, how can the Government possibily justify allowing a butcher such as General Pinochet to come to this country to arrange a British-Chilean arms contract? He was responsible for killing and torturing thousands of people. That contract means that British arms technology will be freely available worldwide, even to countries such as Iraq.

Photo of Mr Alan Clark Mr Alan Clark , Plymouth, Sutton

It is untrue to say that the arms trade is unchecked. The hon. Gentleman and the House will be aware that it is subject to careful checks and scrutiny through our export licence procedure and a careful scrutiny of all applicants, deals and contracts. The visit of General Pinochet was nothing to do with the Government. He did not come as an official visitor; he came to look at a British commercial concern in which he has an interest. There was no question of the Government's having any power to exclude him.