HC Deb 07 June 1976 vol 912 cc904-5
17. Mr. Newton

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on his policy towards the export of communications equipment under the Export of Goods (Control) Order.

Mr. Dell

Applications for licences to export communications equipment which is subject to control are considered in the light of the Government's policies in relation to particular destinations.

Mr. Newton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is now very great concern in my constituency and in the Chelmsford constituency about the question mark hanging over a Marconi contract with South Africa? Is he further aware that many trade unionists are anxious about the many hundreds of jobs which may be at stake? Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that those jobs will be given due weight in the balance and agree that, in present circumstances, that weight ought to be very heavy indeed?

Mr. Dell

No doubt in any application for an export licence all relevant considerations will be displayed as seen by whoever applies for it. It is not the custom of the Department to discuss particular applications for export licences.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that this contract was to be with the Defence Department of South Africa, which means that it had military significance, and that its purpose was for use in Namibia, just as the Americans used the system in Vietnam?

Mr. Dell

I am not able to confirm all my hon. Friend's statements, but, in any case, if an application is to be made it is better that it should be considered in the light of what the trade says.

Mr. Dykes

Is the right hon. Gentleman keeping a close eye on the development of the draft EEC directive on public purchasing contracts because of its importance for this sector and its possible relation to export-control orders of a different kind?

Mr. Dell

I will look at that point.