HC Deb 07 July 1952 vol 503 cc884-6
22. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs why the ban on the export of certain military equipment and goods to Spain has been lifted.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

The total ban on the export of material destined for the Spanish armed forces, which has existed in recent years, would, if continued, deprive British firms of important commercial advantages.

Her Majesty's Government have, therefore, decided, where this is desirable on economic grounds, to lift the ban on the export of "common use" material, that is to say, material which can be used for either civilian or military purposes, and of obsolescent war material, where such material is surplus to our own requirements and those of customers such as the Commonwealth and N.A.T.O. countries.

Mr. Davies

How can the Minister possibly justify this change of policy on these grounds? We cannot possibly change our policy simply on economic grounds when it is immoral to do so. Does the Minister realise that the United Nations condemnatory resolution which was passed in 1947 still stands?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that it is necessary to keep this matter in proper perspective. We obtain important strategic materials from Spain.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that this return to common sense in dealing with Spain will give great satisfaction to sensibly-minded persons? We certainly objected to jet engines being sent to Russia while Spain, which is certainly not a greater tyranny than Russia, has not been allowed hitherto to have anything.

Mr. Fenner Brockway

Is the Minister aware that his announcement will be received with dismay by thousands of democrats in this country, because there is no difference between a totalitarian regime in Spain and one in the Communist countries?

Mr. Wyatt

Is the Minister aware that democratic countries like Burma and Israel—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Is anybody suggesting that Israel is not a democratic country?

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Burma is not.

Mr. Wyatt

Is the Minister aware that democratic countries like Burma and Israel have been trying to get exactly the same equipment as this, which has been denied to them and which is now being given to Franco Spain?

Mr. Lloyd

I should like notice of that question. I doubt very much if what the hon. Member says is true.

Mr. Ernest Davies

In view of the most unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.