HC Deb 12 April 1967 vol 744 cc1191-2
30. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what inquiries for orders for warships and military aircraft from South Africa have been received during the last year; and whether any such orders have been encouraged.

Mr. Healey

Detailed information about arms inquiries or sales to any country is confidential but, as the House knows, in the case of South Africa these would be dealt with in the light of our arms embargo policy which was explained to the House by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 17th and 25th November, 1964.—[Vol. 702, c. 199–208; Vol. 702, c. 1281–7.]

Mr. Digby

Is it then the policy of the Government to discourage such inquiries and to encourage the South African Government to get its supplies elsewhere?

Mr. Healey

The hon. Gentleman will know that in our opinion there are many good political reasons for this. We decided to limit the chances of British arms exporters so far as South Africa was concerned. We still believe that those considerations are correct.

Dame Irene Ward

As we are very short of naval orders on nearly all our great rivers, if the right hon. Gentleman is to pursue this policy towards South Africa, will the Government kindly place some orders to make sure that men have employment in naval shipbuilding?

Mr. Healey

I am glad to have the assurance that the hon. Lady will support the Government's policy towards the purchase of the F111K which has brought such large numbers of orders to naval shipbuilding areas in various parts of the country.

Mr. Rose

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that he will not yield to this financial expediency as against political principle? Will he also bear in mind that countries like South Africa are conniving at the breach of the sanctions against Rhodesia?

Mr. Healey

I can certainly give the assurance that in this matter we do not intend to allow what might be regarded as expediency to overrule principle.