HC Deb 15 July 1964 vol 698 cc1197-8
38. Mr. M. Foot

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will state the value of all military weapons and munitions sold to Egypt in each year since 1951.

46. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish a White Paper stating the names of those countries not associated with the Commonwealth who have made applications for the purchase of arms from the United Kingdom since 1952, and details of the weapons, vessels and other munitions required.

Mr. Thorneycroft

No, Sir. It is not the practice to disclose details of Defence equipment supplied to other countries.

Mr. Foot

Leaving aside the premature disclosure which came about in the other matter, will the right hon. Gentleman look at the matter afresh, because in 1956 exactly these figures were published by the Ministry of Defence which the right hon. Gentleman says are not now publishable? Will he look at the matter again?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am always willing to look at anything the hon. Gentleman asks me to, naturally, but nothing that happened then or has happened recently disposes me to alter the Answer to this Question.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my Question does not ask for details about arms which have been supplied? All that I am asking him to do is to tell the House what applications have been received. If he is ready to do that, will be give the details of the application received from the Spanish Government?

Mr. Thorneycroft

My Answer applies both to applications and to sales.

Brigadier Clarke

Would my right hon. Friend agree that nothing that we did to Egypt stopped her from having frigates repaired and converted in the Portsmouth area, whereas what the Opposition have done with Franco has lost thousands of £s of orders to my constituency?

Mr. Healey

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that the information provided by the Admiralty spokesman was incorrect, did not the Prime Minister say yesterday that he had been authorised to give details of such a contract if the time arose? How can he square that with the statement that he has just made that it is not the custom to give such details?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is always courteous to give details of something which is announced from outside.