HC Deb 25 February 1965 vol 707 cc596-8
21. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the President of the Board of Trade what alternative markets the Government have obtained in view of the loss of £150 million of South African arms orders over the next three years.

Mr. Jay

The figure quoted by the hon. Member bears no relation to our past trade, and the question of replacing exports of this magnitude does not arise.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the figures which I have quoted are those which were given by the South African Minister of Defence and have not been challenged by Her Majesty's Government? Are not all the Prime Minister's glossy T.V. exhortations to export effort mocked by deliberate sacrifice to ideological prejudice and pressure of vast orders which are fully in the interests of Western and Commonwealth defence? Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—that we are being replaced in this huge expanding market, not only by our N.A.T.O. allies, but by Czechoslovakia, East Germany and other Communist leaders of the South Africa boycott brigade?

Mr. Jay

Whatever the source of the hon. Member's figures, they are incorrect. While in the matter of arms traffic we have now come into line with the United Nations, the United States and Canada, our peaceful trade in both directions with South Africa continues to increase.

Mr. Jackson

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that, although we have had thirteen years of Tory failure, we have not yet sunk so low that we have to earn our living selling arms to support the apartheid policy in South Africa? Does not my right hon. Friend agree that if we wished to have satisfactory trade with South Africa, in practice, the arms trade is likely to ruin the peaceful trade because it will lead to the killing of Africans?

Mr. Jay

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Barber

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my hon. Friend the Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) is perfectly right in saying that South Africa will have no difficulty in getting the arms which she wants from other sources? Furthermore, will he urgently tell his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that when he next makes a national appeal on television for everyone else in the country to change their attitudes on exports, it would help if he would set an example by changing his own attitude on export opportunities to South Africa of arms which are clearly not designed for internal repression?

Mr. Jay

Whatever South Africa does, we prefer to keep our obligations to the United Nations.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows that under the Charter of the United Nations every country is protected in its right to acquire arms for external defence?

Mr. Jay

Surely the right hon. Gentleman knows that there is a particular United Nations Resolution relating to this traffic. We are closely observing this.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Mr. Biggs-Davison, for the next Question please.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

On a point of order. I beg to give notice that, in view of the unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I will raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible opportunity.