HC Deb 22 November 1948 vol 458 cc839-41
1. Mr. Donner

asked the Minister of Supply when the decision to sell the Rolls Royce Nene jet engine to the U.S.S.R. was taken; how many such engines have been sold to the U.S.S.R. and, separately, to Czechoslovakia or any other country under Soviet influence; at what price they were sold; and whether it is intended to make any further deliveries to these countries.

Mr. Piratin

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, I wish to ask your guidance with regard to the expression to Czechoslovakia or any other country under Soviet influence, which is an imputation that that country is under Soviet influence. In view of the fact that we are constantly told by the Clerk at the Table that any statement contained in a Question must be a statement of fact, is the expression used in this Question in Order?

Mr. Speaker

I should have thought it was a statement of fact, and is, therefore, in Order.

Major Guy Lloyd

Further to that point of Order. Would it not have been much more accurate had the words "dominance and domination" been used instead of "influence"?

Mr. Piratin

The next time I wish to put down a Question about Greece, a number of which have been rejected by the Clerk at the Table—will it be in Order if I use the expression: "Greece under the domination of Britain and America"?

Mr. Speaker

Certainly not, because that is not a face.

Mr. Piratin

Further to that point of Order——

Mr. Speaker

This is not a point of Order but merely a political argument, which I think ought to stop.

Mr. Piratin

With great respect, Sir——

Mr. Speaker

It is not a point of Order and I will not have it pursued.

The Minister of Supply (Mr. G. R. Strauss)

Messrs. Rolls Royce were given permission in September, 1946, to sell 10 Nene engines to Russia and in March, 1947, to sell a further 15. None has been sold to Czechoslovakia or to any other country which could be described as under Soviet influence. No further sales are contemplated. The selling price of the engines was fixed under a commercial contract.

Mr. Donner

But does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the sale of this particular engine to Russia saved that country years of research; and how does he justify that sale?

Mr. Strauss

As the hon. Member is probably aware, none of these engines was on the secret list.

Sir Waldron Smithers

In view of the rising tide of Communism, will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that no more munitions of war of any kind will be sold, but all will be kept for defence purposes? Will he give that undertaking?

Mr. Strauss

That is a very broad question. As I said in reply to the Question put down, no further sales of this engine are contemplated.

Sir W. Smithers

I asked about all munitions of war.

Mr. Edgar Granville

Did I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that these engines were not on the secret list at the time of the sale?

Mr. Strauss

Yes, Sir.

7. Commander Noble

asked the Minister of Supply how many British jet engines have been supplied to the U.S.S.R.; and in which years.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Fifty-five jet engines were supplied to the U.S.S.R. during 1947.

Commander Noble

Can the Minister say, in view of his statement that no further sales are contemplated the reason for this change of policy?

Mr. Strauss

One of the reasons is that we have not completed our inquiries.

Mr. Blackburn

Will my right hon. Friend make it quite plain that, so long as the present cold war continues, we have no intention whatsoever of supplying any kind of warlike materials either to the Soviet Union or to any of her satellites?

Mr. Speaker

This Question asks how many engines have been supplied, not about the cold war.