HC Deb 11 March 1971 vol 813 cc557-8
5. Mr. Booth

asked the Minister of State for Defence what steps he has taken to respond to the call of the United Nations Decolonisation Committee in August last to desist from giving military assistance to portugal to prevent the sale or supply of weapons to Portugal, and to stop the sale or shipment to Portugal of materials for the manufacture of weapons.

Lord Balniel

None, Sir. It has been the policy of successive Governments to supply Portugal with military equipment in accordance with her reasonable N.A.T.O. requirements but not to approve applications for the sale of military equipment for use in her overseas territories.

Mr. Booth

Does the Minister accept that, since Portugal is our ally in N.A.T.O., it is of the utmost importance for the Government to take every step to ensure that no aid goes from Britain to assist Portuguese military action against the people of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea?

Lord Balniel

That is rather wide of the Question. To the best of my knowledge, no British military equipment sent to Portugal since our present policy was initiated in 1961 has been or is being used in her overseas territories.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Are not the operations in the overseas territories to which the hon. Member referred operations against incursions from across the frontiers? Is not Portuguese Africa, including the Cape Verde Islands, essential to the security of Britain, Europe and the West?

Lord Balniel

I take my hon. Friend's point, but our policy is clear, that the military equipment which is supplied to Portugal is to meet her N.A.T.O. commitments, and we do not supply equipment for use in her overseas territories.