HC Deb 30 June 1964 vol 697 cc1131-2
Q.2. Mr. D. Foot

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech delivered on 16th June in London by the Lord Privy Seal to the Foreign Press Association regarding the proposed trade deal between Vauxhall Motors and Indonesia represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Foot

Is it not a strange state of affairs that at a time when Indonesia is waging undeclared war against a Commonwealth country, and not only Malaysian but British and Gurkha troops are engaged, that a British firm, with the blessing of Her Majesty's Government, should give aid and comfort to the aggressor? Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that in those circumstances the distinction which the Leader of the House sought to draw between strategic and other goods is quite unreal, and a distinction which we completely jettisoned from 1939 to 1945?

The Prime Minister

The hon. and learned Gentleman is in error. First, my right hon. and learned Friend was making the point that it was wrong to stop trade except on strategic grounds. I think that that would be accepted. Secondly, there is no question of a British firm giving aid to or abetting the Indonesians. [Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman will listen, he will hear what I have to say. There is no question in this case of credit being given because the export credit guarantee cannot, on purely economic grounds, cover business with Indonesia on a substantial scale in present circumstances.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this deal, if it comes off, is in a different category from the Leyland deal with Cuba, and that it would cause some consternation in this country if British vehicles could be of use to a Power which was waging war against our troops?

The Prime Minister

This could be so, but it is not so. There is no question of credit being given, and the deal could not be undertaken except on a credit basis. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) that there is no advantage that I can see in saying what one will do or will not do when one knows that for economic reasons these deals are not on.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I ask whether, before the Government approved the deal, there was any consultation with the Prime Minister of Malaysia, and, if so, what was his view?

The Prime Minister

There is no question of the deal being approved. Surely the right hon. Gentleman has understood what I have said. There is no question of the deal being approved.

Sir P. Agnew

Would my right hon. Friend agree that it is a strange coincidence that the arguments deployed by hon. Gentlemen opposite were not used when it was a question of supplying friendly Spain with designs of our frigates?