HC Deb 18 December 1968 vol 775 cc1363-4
16. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will set out in the OFFICIAL REPORT the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation regulations which ensure that arms supplied to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies are restricted in their use to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation purposes; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Healey

There are no such regulations.

Mr. Judd

Can my right hon. Friend give the House a categorical assurance that arms supplied for the defence of freedom and democracy will never be used for the suppression of freedom fighters in Portuguese territories of Africa and elsewhere, and, if not, why not?

Mr. Healey

I cannot give an assurance on behalf of all Governments in the world. But what I can say is that Her Majesty's Government have for some time pursued a policy of not providing the Portuguese Government with arms which are primarily relevant to colonial war. I must remind my hon. Friend that this may not be the view of Her Majesty's Opposition.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Since Her Majesty's Government rely on the security of such territories for communications round the Cape, is not this attitude a lot of humbug? Is not an extension of the responsibilities of N.A.T.O. to overseas territories vital to the security of Europe?

Mr. Healey

No. The hon. Gentleman must accept that many considerations of foreign policy as well as security have to be borne in mind when decisions on this type of matter are taken. I believe that it is important for the interests of the United Kingdom that we should be seen to be in support of the natural desire of the African peoples for independence.

Mr. Rippon

Will the right hon. Gentleman now answer a question that I put to him on Monday which he did not then answer? Will he confirm that the Government are now reconsidering their ban on the export of arms to South Africa for external defence?

Mr. Healey

I am delighted to be able to answer that question with an unequivocal no.

Mr. Dunn

On a point of order. On two separate occasions I have heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman refer to a question which he put to my right hon. Friend on Monday. Are we dealing with Monday Club questions or today's Questions?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is a most interesting point of order.