HC Deb 24 November 1965 vol 721 cc507-8
47. Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

asked the Secretary of State for Defence, in view of his decision to buy United States aircraft, what representations he has made to the United States Defence Department against their decision to add 50 per cent. to the existing tariff barrier against imports of defence equipment from Great Britain, which is contrary to the terms of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Mr. Healey

Negotiations are being pursued with the United States Department of Defence about the possibility of their purchasing certain items of British equipment. If we can establish that these items meet the requirements of the American Forces in performance and in time, we hope that the British firms which manufacture them will be allowed to compete for United States orders without having to face any price differentials. The question of whether the differential is contrary to the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is one for my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Sir Ian Orr-Ewing

Will the right hon. Gentleman press this case as hard as he can, because we are committed to very large expenditure on American armaments and it is only fair that the Americans should give a fair crack of the whip to some of the excellent weapons which we produce in this country and not load the dice against us?

Mr. Healey

Yes, Sir. I am deeply concerned about this matter and I have pointed out to my American colleagues that it will not be possible for the United Kingdom to make large purchases of new American equipment without compensating purchases by the United States.