HC Deb 23 November 1960 vol 630 cc1118-9
21. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the Lord Privy Seal what instructions he has given to attachés at British Embassies to encourage the sale of armaments abroad; how many attachés have been, or will be, specifically briefed in this way; how many such specially-qualified attachés have been, or will be, appointed; and what kind of relevant information is being sent to embassies.

Mr. Heath

As the information for which the hon. Gentleman has asked is long and detailed I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Allaun

Is not this the one kind of export we do not want? Would it not be better to give more encouragement to peaceful exports instead? Will the Lord Privy Seal admit that British lives may be lost, as in the past, through the sales activities of these merchants of death, such as Vickers Armstrong, whose new office blocks, symbolically, will be the tallest in London and will overlook the Houses of Parliament nearby?

Mr. Heath

We would welcome support from every quarter for increasing exports for peaceful purposes, and indeed we receive it from every quarter. As regards exports of arms, countries have a fully justifiable right of self-defence and to purchase arms for that purpose.

Mr. Pavitt

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether such attachés are stationed in Prague, Moscow and Warsaw?

Mr. Heath

The hon. Gentleman will be able to see if he looks at the long and detailed reply which I am providing.

Following is the information: In addition to their main duties as military advisers to Her Majesty's Representatives, Service Attachés are under standing instructions to take such steps as are appropriate in the circumstances to inform the Governments of the countries in which they are serving of the availability of British equipment. At present there are 20 naval attachés, 39 military attachés, 34 air attachés, and 24 assistant attachés serving at Her Majesty's Missions in foreign countries. There is also a supply attaché at Bonn. All Service attachés are fully briefed before taking up their appointments, on all aspects of arms sales which may be of interest to the countries in which they are serving. Such briefing includes visits to private manufacturers where appropriate. During the course of their appointments, Service attachés maintain close touch with their parent Departments and the Ministry of Aviation regarding all aspects of arms sales. Her Majesty's Embassies have had brought to their attention the Second Report from the Select Committee on Estimates, concerning the sale of military equipment abroad, and are acting upon those of the Committee's recommendations which were accepted by Her Majesty's Government.