HC Deb 04 February 1970 vol 795 cc424-5
45. Mr. Goodhew

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the delivery of Chieftain tanks to the British Army to be completed.

Mr. John Morris

I expect the delivery of Chieftain tanks to the British Army to be completed during the financial year 1973–74.

Mr. Goodhew

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that that is a disappointing reply? Will he ensure that, in the meantime, no exports of these tanks are made to other countries just in order to help our balance of payments when they are vitally needed for the British armed forces?

Mr. Morris

I can give no such assurance. The re-equipping is well in hand, having regard to the economic, technical and military factors, all of which are part and parcel of the important process of re-equipping the regiments.

Mr. Henig

Since the Chieftain is rightly claimed to be probably the most advanced tank in the world, will my hon. Friend be careful, in sales of it to third countries, to make certain that none of them could fall into the hands of potential enemies of this country? I think he will know what I mean.

Mr. Morris

If I know what my hon. Friend means, I think I can give him the assurance that all these matters are taken into account before any decision on sales is taken.