HC Deb 25 January 1954 vol 522 cc1447-9
22. Mr. Ernest Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent there has been a relaxation of the restrictions on the export of arms to Spain.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

As the hon. Member is aware, only obsolescent or "common-use" military equipment could be exported to Spain before the relaxation of the restrictions announced in my reply of 14th December last. In future, applications for the export of more modern equipment will be considered.

Mr. Davies

What justification is there for this further appeasement of Franco? Are we receiving anything in return for this relaxation? If not, is it not a question of giving Franco everything for which he asks and receiving nothing but brickbats in return?

Mr. Lloyd

There is no question of appeasing General Franco in this matter. It is purely a commercial decision, taken in the interests of this country.

26. Mr. G. Jeger

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he will suspend the sale of arms to Spain until the hostile Spanish references to Gibraltar cease.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

No, Sir.

Mr. Jeger

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman explain what sense or logic there is in sending arms to our self-confessed enemies?

Mr. Lloyd

If the arms which we are likely to sell to Spain made any difference to the relations between the two countries it would be a different matter; but the sale of arms to Spain is governed entirely by commercial considerations.

Mr. S. Silverman

Can the Minister say whether the commercial considerations which govern the sale of these arms include a covenant that they will in no circumstances be used in an attack upon Gibraltar?

Mr. Lloyd

We certainly do not believe that any such thing is possible, nor should we be likely to supply any arms which could be effectively used for that purpose.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Has not the pre-war principle of approving arms sales abroad on purely commercial grounds been abandoned since the war? Why should it be revived in favour of General Franco?

Mr. Lloyd

That really is the position which governs our sales of arms to most countries at present. In fact, under the heading to which I have referred, of "common-use" and obsolescent equipment, £1,300,000 worth of equipment of that sort was sold to Spain last year. The reason for that was commercial—to help this country to make a living.

Captain Duncan

Can my right hon. and learned Friend assure us that no considerations of political fanaticism will prevent friendly relations with Spain?