HC Deb 28 February 1962 vol 654 cc1335-6
40 Mr. Brockway

asked the Minister of Defence what armaments are being plied by Her Majesty's Government to the Government of the Republic of South Africa; and under what arrangements technicians are being provided to assist in the organisation of the three new armament factories.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

It has been the practice of successive Governments not to disclose information about arms supplied to other countries. The Government have made no arrangement to provide technicians to assist in the organisation of new armaments factories in South Africa.

Mr. Brockway

With reference to the first part of that reply, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman has seen the statements made by the Minister of Defence and other Ministers of the Republican Government that the purpose of the armaments build-up is to suppress movements within the Republic? Does the right hon. Gentleman think that British arms should be given to South Africa for that purpose? As to the latter part of his Answer, is it not the case that technicians have been supplied in connection with the new armaments industries that are being established by the I.C.I, in association with de Beers?

Mr. Watkinson

In reply to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I made it quite plain that the Government have made no arrangements to provide technicians to assist in any work of this kind. As to the first part, I cannot comment on statements of which I have no knowledge, but I would say that all proposals for the export of arms are examined from the political, strategic and economic angles before they are authorised, and this will cerainly hold for South Africa as for any other country.

Mr. Paget

Can the Minister of Defence tell us which of our enemies would be assisted by knowing the statistics of arms exports to South Africa? Is not this sort of bogus security quite wrong?

Mr. Watkinson

This is the practice that was followed by the hon. and learned Gentleman's own Government, and it is also followed by this Government.