HC Deb 20 June 1951 vol 489 cc512-3
45. Mr. Remnant

asked the Minister of Defence what countries have manufactured the arms and equipment recently captured by British troops from the Chinese and North Korean armies.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Shinwell)

While we have plenty of information about the different types of equipment used by the Chinese Communist and North Korean forces which has now fallen into our hands, I do not think it would be in the public interest to publish details. Much of the equipment was originally captured by the Chinese Communist forces from the Chinese Nationalist forces or from the United Nations forces themselves. The equipment is of miscellaneous origin and includes items of Japanese, Russian, American and German manufacture.

Mr. Remnant

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the public are very interested, just as much as he is, in the sources of manufacture of this equipment, and that to enable them to come to some opinion, possibly in support of the right hon. Gentleman, they are entitled to be told the sources?

Mr. Shinwell

It is a matter of importance in the first instance that we should study this matter before we disclose details to the public.

Mr. Paget

Is not by far the largest proportion of these arms of American origin?

Mr. Michael Astor

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House how much postwar Russian equipment is involved?

Mr. Shinwell

No, Sir.

Colonel Ropner

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what consideration of public interest is involved in refusing to give these names?

Mr. Shinwell

In our view it is not desirable to publish details of equipment which might enable the enemy to learn as much as we know about it.

Mr. Eden

Surely the enemy, whatever their limitations of knowledge, must know what their equipment was?

Mr. Shinwell

There is no reason why they should know what we know about it.