HC Deb 26 October 1971 vol 823 cc1476-7
Q6. Mr. Wall

asked the Prime Minister what official communications he has received from the South African Prime Minister regarding the supply of maritime arms; and if he will make a statement.

The Prime Minister

None, Sir.

Mr. Wall

Does my right hon. Friend agree that we have a moral responsibility under the Simonstown Agreement to supply maritime arms for the joint defence of the Cape route? In view of the recession in the shipbuilding and aviation industries, may we be told when South African requirements will be met?

The Prime Minister

Our position remains exactly as it was stated by me earlier in the year, with the publication of the White Paper, and as repeated by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary since. There is no change in that. My hon. Friend asks when South African requirements will be met. That depends on when the South African Government put their requirements to this Government. Then they can be considered.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

As this Government risked world opprobrium about the supply of the helicopters and the South Africans have not yet put in a firm order for the helicopters, is this not yet another case of a diplomatic victory over this Government by one of the opponents of decency and truth in the world?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir.

Rear Admiral Morgan Giles

Is not effective surveillance of the Cape route a top priority if, instead of a fighting war, we are to prevent war by the use of the hot line to Moscow?

The Prime Minister

That is partly the purpose of the Simonstown Agreement, and that is why we have said that we will adhere to it.

Mr. Pardoe

Is the right hon. Gentleman satisfied that all the many officials now attached to the South African Embassy in London are needed to negotiate a maritime arms deal? Will he agree to set up an inquiry to ascertain exactly what are their activities?

The Prime Minister

If the South African Government wish to have officials here to discuss these matters they can do so, but if any of them commits offences the necessary action will be taken.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Has the right hon. Gentleman repeated my instruction to the security services that there was to be no co-operation between the British security services and the officials in London for the purpose of exercising surveillance over South African liberals in this country?

The Prime Minister

If the right hon. Gentleman recalls his previous Administration he will know that security matters were not discussed in public. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. George Cunningham.