HC Deb 27 July 1964 vol 699 cc978-9
10. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs what policy was supported by the United Kingdom representative at the recent consideration by the United Nations of a resolution with regard to the export to South Africa of spare parts for vehicles, which would cover Saracen armoured cars.

Mr. R. A. Butler

In his explanation of our vote in favour of the Security Council resolution of 18th June, the United Kingdom representative referred to paragraph 12 of the Resolution which deals with the supply of arms to South Africa. He repeated that Her Majesty's Government's policy remains as previously stated, that is not to export to South Africa arms which would enable the policy of apartheid to be enforced. As regards Saracen armoured cars, I have nothing to add to what was said by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 19th December.

Mrs. Castle

Is not the attitude of Great Britain in this matter one of pure casuistry? Did not the resolution of 18th June, for which we voted, call on member States to stop the export not only of arms but of materials for the manufacture and maintenance of arms in South Africa? And did we not, as the Foreign Secretary said, pledge that we would stop the export of arms which would enable apartheid to be enforced? Are we not exporting spare parts for Saracen armoured cars at this moment? Are we not, therefore, showing a complete reluctance to do anything practical against apartheid?

Mr. Butler

As the Prime Minister said on 19th December, we supply parts for Saracens under the existing contracts but we intend to make no new contracts. All applications for spares are carefully scrutinised in the light of our declared policy.

Mr. Mayhew

Are we seriously to take it that a commercial arms contract is regarded as more binding than United Nations resolutions for which we voted?

Mr. Butler

What we must take is that the policy at present being carried out is as stated by the Prime Minister and as I have repeated it here.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Does not the export of spare parts for Saracens show that the Government are sending munitions which could be used for the suppression of civil disorder in South Africa? Have the Government abandoned altogether their position that we send such arms as we send to South Africa under the Simonstown Agreement, and do they now rest solely on Article 51 of the United Nations Charter? If they do, it is very hard to square that policy with our vote at the United Nations.

Mr. Butler

There was an explanation of our vote at the United Nations on which I have given a full Answer in reply to the original Question. As for the Saracens, we do not intend to make any new contracts. We are simply fulfilling the existing contracts. As I added, all applications for spares are carefully scrutinised in the light of our policy.

Mr. Gordon Walker

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how long this contract will go on under which we are supplying spare parts?

Mr. Butler

I could not give that information without notice.