HC Deb 07 April 1948 vol 449 c154
31. Major Tufton Beamish

asked the Minister of Defence whether he is aware that a number of Auster aircraft have been used by the Jews in Palestine for bombing, machine-gunning and reconnaissance purposes against the Arabs; whether these aircraft were obtained from British sources; and whether it is his intention to allow these and other aircraft obtained from British sources to be retained by their present owners.

Mr. Alexander

I am informed that one light aircraft, believed to be an Auster, was recently employed by the Jews in operations against the Arabs in Palestine. The source from which this aircraft was obtained is not known at present, but I am having further inquiries made.

Major Beamish

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that, as recently as 4th February, he claimed that the sale of these Auster aircraft was not inconsistent with the policy of denying warlike material to both Arabs and Jews, and that he went on to describe these aircraft as non-military stores? May I ask whether these are still his views?

Mr. Alexander

As I have said, I am having inquiries made into this particular aircraft. In this case, it did not enable the Jews to make their operations successful. What I said on 4th February was that these aircraft, which had been demilitarised and all of which were unserviceable, had been sold by open tender, and it was open to either side to buy them. [Interruption.] I gave that information. I am not sure what all the trouble is about. We gave orders that no further aeroplanes should be supplied.

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