HC Deb 15 June 1964 vol 696 cc913-5
14. Mr. A. Henderson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to what extent it remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government to maintain a balance of arms in the Middle East as provided is the Tripartite Declaration of 1951.

40. Mr. Prentice

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government to work for a balance of arms in the Middle East, in accordance with the Tripartite Declaration of 1951; and what active steps are being taken to promote this policy.

Mr. R. A. Butler

Her Majesty's Government continue to attach the greatest importance to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Middle East and to the avoidance of an arms race between the States of the area. We are guided by these objectives in any decisions we take.

Mr. Henderson

Is it not a fact that the Government of Egypt have received large quantities of armaments—warships, submarines, fighter and bomber planes, and tanks—from the Governments of the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia? Has not the right hon. Gentleman himself indicated that they are engaged in Egypt on the development and production of rocketry? Are we to understand that the Government of Israel are entitled to come here and obtain adequate arms from this country, or the United States, or is it still the policy of the Government to try to secure agreement with the Soviet Union to stop this supply of arms, and this arms race?

Mr. Butler

We wish to avoid an arms race. We cannot stop shipments to Egypt, much as we may regret them. As for the question of arms for Israel, we are guided by the objectives that I have stated, namely, that there should not be an arms race in the area.

Mr. Prentice

In view of everything that has happened since 1951, is it not time to seek the co-operation of other countries in obtaining a wider and more up-to-date version of this doctrine of keeping arms out of the Middle East? Ought not this to include discussions on measures to prevent nationals from countries outside the Middle East going there and giving technical advice on the development of rocketry, which, according to the reports, has been done, in that advice has been given to the Egyptians by German scientists?

Mr. Butler

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has already indicated in a Reply from this Box that we have no indication that atomic weapons are being accepted or received by Egypt. The Declaration of 1950 still stands. As the late Lord Privy Seal said, it has not been retracted.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

To what extent do other signatories to the Tripartite Declaration regard it as in full force and valid? Are we the only ones to do so?

Mr. Butler

There has not been a great deal of activity under this Declaration, but it remains in force.

Mr. Gordon Walker

As the import of arms into this part of the world is extremely dangerous, are the Government having, or will they have, discussions with the Soviet Union in an attempt to get some kind of agreement about the balance of arms coming into this whole area?

Mr. Butler

I would not exclude the possibility of talks with the Soviet Union on this subject.