HC Deb 19 December 1962 vol 669 cc1241-2
18. Mrs. Castle

asked the Lord Privy Seal what conditions are imposed on the sale of arms to the South African Government.

Mr. Godber

Her Majesty's Government's policy about supplying arms to South Africa was explained to the House by my hon. Friend in his winding-up speech in the debate on the Address.

Mrs. Castle

Is not the hon. Gentleman fully aware that that speech does not answer this Question? Will he say what conditions the Government lay down for the sale of these arms? If there are no conditions, how can the Government continue to say that these arms are for joint Western defence and not for the intimidation of the local people? Is it not outrageous that we should be helping South Africa to build up the most powerful air force of any small nation in the world? Is not this bound to poison the attitude of the whole African Continent to the British Government at a most crucial time?

Mr. Godber

No, Sir. The position on the supply of these arms is that any order is looked at very carefully from the political point of view and from the point of view to which the hon. Lady referred, namely, whether there is any question of their being used for local intimidation. Only such arms as would obviously be required for external defence are supplied.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the Minister of State aware that his hon. Friend did not answer this question in his speech on the Address but commented on particular remarks of mine about Buccaneer aircraft? All our Questions have been met with a statement that it is not in the public interest to give this information about What is being supplied or what is allowed to be supplied. Will the hon. Gentleman, therefore, put a ban on all arms shipments, including tear gas and tear gas making equipment?

Mr. Godber

The answer to the last part of that supplementary question is that I will not agree to put an embargo on all arms. I have the quotation from my hon. Friend's speech on 31st October. This is what he said: We scrutinise all requests from the political as well as the strategic and economic aspects before they are authorised. This is the case with South Africa, and the possibility that a particular supply of arms may be used for measures of internal repression is taken into account."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1962; Vol. 666, c. 286.] My hon. Friend spoke at some length. It is not true to say that he did not deal with the question.