HC Deb 01 April 1969 vol 781 cc230-1
Q3. Mr. Winnick

asked the Prime Minister what consultations has he had with the President of the United States of America over arms supplies to Greece under the North Atlantic Treaty; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. M. Stewart

I have been asked to reply.

I would refer to the Answer which I gave on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. John Fraser) on 27th March.—[Vol. 780, c. 1795.]

Mr. Winnick

Will my right hon. Friend make a clear statement that there are no plans, at least on our part, to increase arms supplies to the Greek military dictatorship?

Mr. Stewart

I have already made clear two things. First, it is not and could not be the practice to reveal details of particular transactions. Secondly, there has been no substantial supply of arms to the Greek Government since the establishment of the present régime there. I would add that there is shortly to be a meeting of N.A.T.O. Ministers in Washington and that it is usual when N.A.T.O. Ministers are together for matters of common interest among them to be discussed, not necessarily at the conference itself.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Will the right hon. Gentleman deprecate as very dangerous indeed anything tending to weaken the contribution of Greece to N.A.T.O.?

Mr. Stewart

When I was replying on behalf of my right hon. Friend to a similar Question last week, I said that it would be wrong to do anything which would weaken N.A.T.O. without in any way advancing the cause of constitutional Government in Greece. But I would also say, as has been said by the right hon. Member for Kinross and West Perth-shire (Sir Alec Douglas-Home), that we all hope to see the re-establishment of constitutional Government in that country.

Mr. John Ellis

As N.A.T.O. is supposed to be for the defence of democracy, how does my right hon. Friend square his answer with that lofty aim, since the rôgime in Greece is not democratic? Also, what does he mean by "substantial"?

Mr. Stewart

Both these matters were dealt with when I spoke last week. I ask my hon. Friend to note what has happened in the twenty years during which N.A.T.O. has been in existence. I do not think that any reasonable person can maintain that the general effect of N.A.T.O. has not been the preservation of human liberty.

Mr. Thorpe

Sharing the right hon. Gentleman's view that we wish to see a return to constitutional rule in Greece, may I take it that he will have no intention of adopting the Nigerian precedent whereby we supply arms to Greece so that we can increase our influence there?

Mr. Stewart

As the right hon. Gentleman has done before, he is failing to understand the motives and purpose of the Government's policy in Nigeria, despite the fact that they have been explained many times.