HC Deb 24 January 1978 vol 942 cc1169-70
13. Mr. Hodgson

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what inspection procedures his Department follows with respect to foreign suppliers of defence equipment.

Dr. Gilbert

Where delegation of quality assurance is not practicable, as in the circumstances set out in my reply to the hon. Member of 6th December 1977, the Department's quality assurance staff make direct arrangements. If practicable, the goods are inspected on receipt. The procedures used are the same as those for home-produced supplies.

Mr. Hodgson

Will not the right hon. Gentleman admit that several British manufacturers of defence equipment have suggested that overseas inspection procedures are not adequate and have so complained to his Department? Does he not regret that his departmental policy, apart from possibly endangering the lives of British soldiers, is leading to increased unemployment in British industry?

Dr. Gilbert

We see no reason to send teams abroad unless we are dissatisfied with the arrangements already being made. If the arrangements abroad were not satisfactory, we would inspect the goods in our own country. If the hon. Gentleman knows of any case, other than the self-seeking of firms which want contracts and have not got them, where these arrangements are unsatisfactory, I should be obliged if he would bring them to my attention.

Mr. Gwynfor Evans

May I revert to imports and exports and congratulate the Government on the reversal of their decision to supply arms to E1 Salvador? I ask the Government to make it a rule not to sell arms to any of the poorest countries of the world.

Dr. Gilbert

I do not think that that really arises from the Question, but I take note of what the hon. Gentleman says.

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